Amazon Offers No Indication That It Is Starting a Bank

  • Philip Ryan
  • January 6, 2015
  • 0

Om Malik noted yesterday that Amazon offered him a payment plan for the new Kindle he was considering:

Hold the Fire Phone — does this mean Amazon is starting a bank? That would be no. For one thing, Amazon is not charging any interest on its payment plan. It is simply offering customers another way to pay for Amazon-branded products. Also, this service appears to be more than a year old. Peter Kafka of All Things D noted Amazon’ s interest-free financing on its own products back in Dec. 2013. At the time, Kafka noted, Amazon appeared desperate to move some Fire Phones, and speculated that this financing might be part of the plan.

It is now 14 months later, and the service appears mostly unchanged. Amazon describes the financing service this way:

Get it now, pay over time
A New Convenient Way to Pay

We’ll charge your first payment when we ship your device. Pay the remaining balance in four equal monthly payments.

  • No finance charges
  • No interest or hidden fees
  • No credit check or application required

How it Works

  1. Click the “Apply offer” button below
  2. Add any eligible Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet to your cart
  3. At checkout, pay 20% of the device price

It’s worth noting Amazon also offers financing on other purchases with its Amazon.com Sroe Card, available here. The card is offered in partnership with Synchrony Financial, formerly a division of GE Capital.

In the Twitter conversation that stemmed from Malik’s observation, some noted that Amazon’s plan was similar to PayPal’s Bill Me Later. Others noted lending would be a low-risk move from Amazon, since customers are used to making purchases on the platform. Good points, but it seems Amazon does not have those plans. When it does, however, here’s a good question its customers may ask:

Bank Innovation has reached out to Amazon for comment. 

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Philip Ryan is Associate Editor of Bank Innovation. He worked as a web developer for the Fund for the City of New York for six years, and was an HTML developer at Ocean-7 Development back in the go-go ’90s. He has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at pryanrmg1@gmail.com.

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