Amazon is taking another step into the saturated financial services industry, and small-business owners could reap the benefit.

The e-commerce giant is planning to offer a new, co-branded credit card that targets small-business owners, according to a Bloomberg report. The card will offer entrepreneurs rewards points for purchases, and potentially even business insurance later down the line. In return, Amazon plans to collect more transaction data, which could help it tailor the rewards and upsell its customers on new features.

It's worth noting the company is not planning to become a bank, per se. Amazon executives are said to be in talks with banking partners including JPMorgan Chase, with whom the company already works to facilitate its payments arm, Amazon Pay. Already, it offers two consumer credit cards through JPMorgan and Synchrony Financial, which come with as much as five percent cash back on purchases. The revenue model on this future product is unclear; card issuers typically generate revenue from over-the-limit and annual fees, and through taking a cut of the purchase price from merchants. For its consumer card product, Chase has an agreement with Amazon whereby it pays the company some type of share on the revenues collected, for instance. 

Because Amazon will rely on a banking partner to generate the infrastructure for its small-business credit card, it's not likely to be a massive moneymaker. But analysts say that's not exactly the point. "Many brilliant companies have recognized that you don't need to have a banking license to succeed in the broader financial services ecosystem," suggests Peter Wannemacher, a senior analyst with research firm Forrester, which focuses on banks' digital strategy. "Amazon doesn't need immediate or thick revenue streams to come out of any banking effort to be successful."

The news comes as major banks are clamoring to attract more small-business customers, with companies including JPMorgan and American Express having debuted revamped, small-business credit cards and co-branded offerings with firms such as Marriott in recent years. That's an area where Amazon, uniquely, has the customers: The company has lent roughly $3 billion to more than 20,000 small businesses that sell through its marketplace, it said last year. Meanwhile, just last week, Amazon announced plans to offer a checking account type product, which could help it to minimize fees associated with credit card processing and payments.

Published on: Mar 14, 2018