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Amazon reportedly looks to offer checking accounts for customers via JP Morgan, other banks

Amazon-Checking

Amazon is considering partnering with Wall Street's top banks in an effort to build a "checking-account-like" product for customers, according to a report.

The e-commerce giant is in early talks with financial institutions including J.P. Morgan Chase to help launch the accounts, aimed at younger customers and those without banking accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

While people familiar with the situation tell the Journal the discussions are in early stages, such a venture would add yet another entity to Amazon's expanding portfolio, which now includes grocery stores and its digital assistant, Alexa.

"The underlying goal is to further grow its Prime membership through cross-selling into existing J.P. Morgan customers and this could lead to more initiatives down the road," Dan Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights, told CNBC in an email. "Ultimately, Amazon is in fifth gear, trying to double down on the consumer and the finance vertical looks like the next step (through partnerships) of adding to the Amazon flywheel."

With Amazon's host of customers and impressive market value, some have wondered whether the e-commerce giant would eventually seek to disrupt the banking system. According to a LendEDU survey released Wednesday, roughly 45 percent of respondents were open to using Amazon as their primary banking account, while 49.6 percent would use a savings account created by the company.

It would appear Amazon is open to teamwork, especially since the company faces regulatory barriers should it wish to lend beyond its pool of Amazon sellers.

"Amazon can collect deposits so long as it's not issuing loans," said Dick Bove, equity research analyst at the Vertical Group. "I'd assume that if an arrangement is created that it would be like the Apple Pay arrangement. Apple has a relationship with a number of banks, using their payment systems, but clearly, Apple is not in the banking business."

A potential partnership with J.P. Morgan would also represent the second major agreement involving Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and J. P. Morgan's chief, Jamie Dimon, in the past year.

Bezos, Dimon and Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett recently announced a joint effort to reduce health care costs for their employees. The companies together employ more than 1.1 million workers.

Shares of Amazon rose 0.8 percent Monday, while J.P. Morgan added 1 percent.

Read The Wall Street Journal's full story here.

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Monday, 10 December 2018

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