Sometimes financial services industry mouthpieces inadvertently give the game away. When this happens – and a tame bank-friendly publication runs a story which aims to fulfil their role as boosters and palliatives for what outside their bubbles is an industry which is beyond redemption – the results are often amusing. If they try to brush the problems big finance causes to media darlings like Amazon under the rug, they look even more ridiculous when their attempts at finessing them away draws even more attention back to the underlying issue.
Once such example comes from big finance’s Mrs. Malaprop, the American Banker. To save weary readers from having to parse the whole article, in this piece American Banker made even by their standards a risible effort to re-tread Amazon’s press release in which Amazon announced to an eager public how it was going to “help” customers give founder Jeff Bezos (who in my mind is living proof of what happens when you cross breed a unicorn and a bunny boiler) even more money.
To cut American Banker’s long story short — by which I am sure I am performing a community service — Amazon now offers customers a means of crediting their Amazon account with funds which they deposit at a range of partner bricks-and-mortar retail outlets. There are some shenanigans with a smartphone app, bar codes, optional Apple Pay or Android Pay snooping, trips to the store to pay in cash and so forth which you can read about in American Banker’s explanation but — to cut to the chase — the new service means that if you have cash, you can get that cash into your Amazon account without needing to have access to a credit or debit card.
The unintentionally amusing aspect of this rah-rah’ing from Amazon and American Banker is that it accidentally highlights a significant issue for so-called New Economy players such as Amazon. The problem for non-traditional retailers and service providers who lack physical premises is that it is very difficult for them to be able to handle customers who either don’t want to pay by credit or debit card or, more intractably, don’t have a debit or credit card in the first place.
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