According to sources, Amazon is currently in discussions with JPMorgan Chase and other banks about creating a product similar to a checking account aimed at a younger demographic. These early stage talks may not result in anything tangible, and are not intended to turn Amazon into a bank. What the product would do is further integrate Amazon into its customers’ lives, from Whole Foods, Kindle, Alexa and its website. The new product would also potentially cut fees Amazon currently pays to banks and provide more customer data.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to sources, last fall Amazon “put out a request for proposals from several banks for a hybrid-type checking account and is weighing pitches from firms including JPMorgan and Capital One Financial.”
Its “more-than $700 billion market value eclipses the combined value of JPMorgan and Bank of America, the two biggest U.S. banks.” But, although the company is competing with UPS and FedEx in delivery, as well as “targeting the hospital-supplies market and considering a push into prescription drugs,” in banking, it plans to become “a partner rather than a disrupter.”
According to bank executives, “new regulations put in place after the financial crisis, while bad for profitability, are a protective moat against challengers.” LendEDU, an online student loan site, conducted a poll of 1,000 Amazon customers and found that 38 percent said they would “trust Amazon to handle their finances equally as they would a traditional bank.”
Collaborating with Amazon would allow JPMorgan or Capital One to “keep a potential competitor close and strengthen ties to a company that is popular among millennials, whose financial habits are changing quickly.”
JPMorgan began issuing an Amazon-branded credit card in 2002, and the two companies, along with Berkshire Hathaway, are working together on an initiative to lower healthcare costs for their employees. JPMorgan chief executive James Dimon called Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos “a friend of the family.” Capital One is “one of the largest bank users of Amazon’s cloud-computing business.”
Little is known about what such a checking-account product would look like, “including whether it would give customers the ability to write checks, directly pay bills, or access to a nationwide ATM network.” WSJ notes that, more than ten years ago, Walmart tried to obtain a banking license, but faced “intense criticism from a range of companies and lawmakers.”