Bank Customers Are Primed And Ready For Amazon

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Forbes | By Gerard du Toit and Aaron Cheris | Sep 25, 2018

Amazon has built an excellent position for expanding into financial services. A new survey of 6,000 U.S. consumers, by Bain & Company in collaboration with Research Now, shows why. In the first direct comparison of customer loyalty for Amazon and US banks, consumers give Amazon a Net Promoter Score of 47, significantly higher than the 31 for regional banks on average, or 18 for the national bank average.

The battle for U.S. retail banking customers is intensifying as Amazon is expected to partner with a bank to offer a cobranded, mobile-friendly, checking-account-like product initially targeted to young adults. Amazon has many advantages: a high and rising frequency of purchasing, viewing, and reviewing interactions with customers; a full commercial relationship, including credit cards on file; integration into consumers’ digital devices; a paid membership program with 90%-plus renewal rates and the majority of U.S. households as members; and no major security breaches so far.

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Our research suggests that Amazon can count on significant demand for basic banking services. Among Amazon Prime respondents (who pay an annual fee for such perks as free two-day shipping), 65% say they would try a free online bank account offered by Amazon, with 2% cash back on Amazon purchases, similar to the company’s cobranded credit card. Of Amazon customers who aren’t Prime members, 43% would try such an account. Even among people who don’t use Amazon for e-commerce purchases today, 37% would try.

For banks, the level of customer loyalty will likely serve as a leading indicator of defection. The more displeased consumers are with their bank, the more willing they are to consider Amazon. Among respondents who are already Amazon customers, those interested in banking with Amazon give the company a higher Net Promoter Score than those who aren’t interested. For respondents who don’t already have a relationship with Amazon, the more displeased they are with their bank, the more willing they are to consider Amazon.

The loyalty leader that isn’t Amazon

Despite its advantages, Amazon—and by extension, other technology firms—is by no means invincible. For example, perennial loyalty leader USAA has a Net Promoter Score of 79, compared with Amazon’s 47. USAA may have a unique customer base in its military community, but some of its characteristics are shared by other direct banks such as Ally, Schwab and Capital One 360. Many of the direct banks have simplified their product line and processes, saving consumers time and effort. USAA also provides access to a broader ecosystem of services, such as car buying. Direct banks appeal to digitally savvy individuals who prefer app-based banking services, and to those looking for more competitive interest rates and fees.

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Still, the threat from Amazon is real and imminent. Moving into basic banking would not only save Amazon on interchange costs, but also give it more direct influence and insight into customers’ finances and spending, rather than having banks as the intermediary. The bank account could become a platform for whole new range of services for a company that already has enormous reach among America’s most valuable banking customers. Our survey shows that Amazon customers control 75% of U.S. household wealth, with Prime subscribers controlling about 45% of wealth. Moreover, Amazon customers account for about 75% of the wealthiest households’ assets.

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