Will millennials bank on Amazon?

Written on Mar 06, 2018

When the news broke that Amazon is seeking to partner with Capital One or JPMorgan to offer a hybrid checking account to millennials, the idea that the retailer is on track to begin to convert its oceans of shoppers into financial account holders is starting to sound more realistic.

Advicent COO Tony Stich predicts that Amazon, a company with a $700 billion market cap, will offer three levels of investment accounts to millennials and interested customers: It could offer do-it-yourself accounts and robo-advisory accounts; and for those who want a personal advisor, Amazon could create and refer customers to a state-by-state network of select investment professionals.

If Amazon decides to use a retainer fee for advisory accounts, “they’ll drive down fees, maybe even to the point where it’s difficult to compete,” Stich said. “Due to their critical mass, vast database and ability to charge lower fees, I think they’ll be able to rationalize retainer fees with regulators where others have had challenges.”

Who knows their customers’ shopping and purchasing habits better than Amazon? Pretty much no one.

“They’ll be able to leverage the cadence of their customers’ buying preferences in their creation and marketing of any financial platform,” Stich said.

And who knows Amazon better than millennials? Some 38% of that generation said they would trust the retailer to handle their finances just as much as they trust a traditional bank, according to a recent LendEDU survey of 1,000 Amazon customers.

“I can see Amazon offering different levels of personal loans and higher-yield checking accounts,” Stich said. “They’ll help customers accumulate this wealth and leverage that wealth in a number of exciting ways.” He said Amazon could even create loan pool investment products and offer crowdfunding opportunities in ways most RIAs have not done.

While retailers like Walmart have failed in their attempts to enter the banking space after facing regulatory roadblocks, Amazon is using a collaborative approach. The company asked for conceptual pitches from Capital One, JP Morgan and several other banks last fall.

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