JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

JPMorgan Chase has developed an e-wallet for Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft and the like, to allow them to offer customers virtual bank accounts, car loans and home rental discounts. In doing so, these online marketplaces and gig economy companies will end up spending less on payment processing fees to third parties — including JPMorgan. That might sound counterintuitive, but the catch is that the companies can only avail themselves of the offerings if they let JPMorgan handle all the payment processing and cash exchanges.

Bloomberg reports that “it’s all part of a move to bolster a fast-growing wholesale payments business that on its own contributed 10 percent of JPMorgan’s $109 billion in revenue last year, and which moves $6 trillion of cash every day for corporations around the world.” Global banks and the big gig economy companies all fear disintermediation — in other words, “being pushed out of transactions entirely.”

According to an Accenture study, over the next five years, banks “risk losing 15 percent of their revenue — around $280 billion — due to escalating competition from non-banks such as Adyen and massive tech companies from PayPal to Apple.”

For an extreme example of what can happen, the U.S. financial industry looks at China’s Alipay and WeChat, “where money flows through digital systems without the need for banks at all.”

JPMorgan chief of wholesale payments Takis Georgakopoulos reported that “there’s no doubt in my mind that e-commerce platforms are thinking about how to do what you would call traditional retail banking or insurance products more than they did in the past.” He added that “the same way a company like Amazon wants to keep everything under their control, we want to keep as much money movement as possible under our control for each individual client.”

JPMorgan, which is targeting the 10 biggest e-commerce and gig economy companies including Amazon, Uber Technologies, Airbnb and eBay, touted its e-wallet as using virtual account technology to “simplify an e-commerce company’s refund process, expedite payouts to sellers and boost loyalty.” It described the “ideal candidate” for the e-wallet as a company with an international customer base.

JPMorgan will have to contend with the tech companies that have “found ways of accomplishing the same thing without relying on” it. Uber, for example, is “working with Green Dot Corp. to roll out e-wallets that let drivers and riders track earnings, manage and move their money, and ‘discover new Uber financial products’ as part of an effort to keep riders loyal and build out its financial-services offering.”

PayPal acquired payout provider Hyperwallet last year. Georgakopoulos reported JPMorgan will “go live with the technology with at least one client before the end of the year.”