For Goldman Sachs, the partnership gives it access to a new market of borrowers who might not think of the Wall Street firm when looking to shore up capital. For Amazon, it furthers its mission to profit from other aspects of its vast marketplace and gets it around some of the regulatory requirements associated with lending. Amazon can also significantly extend the lending products to its customers without taking on more credit risk.
According to the Financial Times, Goldman Sachs started building technology that would enable it to extend loans to small and medium-sized businesses via Amazon's lending platform. The service could be up and running in March.
More Wall Street and tech partnerships to come
Goldman Sachs and Amazon might have made strange bedfellows a few years ago, but with technology and finance colliding, partnerships like this are becoming the new norm. Bank of America has been lending on Amazon's platform for about two years. Then there's Haven Healthcare, the joint venture among Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway to provide healthcare services and insurance. It's being offered only to employees of the three companies, but they expect to extend it to the masses at some point.
Amazon's efforts in financial services have always been about finding new ways to increase sales on its platform. You probably won't see a digital bank from Amazon, but you'll see the company enhance Amazon Pay, its digital wallet for customers and payments network for merchants. To reach the unbanked, Amazon rolled out Amazon Cash, which enables consumers to deposit cash into a digital account at drugstores and convenience stores around the country. They can then make purchases on Amazon's marketplace.
Amazon Lending, which Amazon launched in 2011, has issued more than $5 billion in loans to more than 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. Two years ago it partnered with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to issue loans to customers on an invitation-only basis for as much as $750,000. The more Amazon is able to get financing in the hands of merchants, the more money it stands to make. That will have a positive effect on its stock, which is up almost 11% year to date.
Goldman Sachs wants to expand its retail business
Goldman Sachs' potential partnership with Amazon isn't too surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to the Wall Street investment bank. With trading and investment banking revenue shrinking, it's been transforming into more of a full-service financial institution. On the enterprise side, it wants to provide banking-as-a-service to businesses around the globe. On the consumer side, it has Marcus, its saving and lending platform that's expanding into digital wealth management and digital banking.
If a deal between Goldman Sachs and Amazon comes to fruition, it will mark the second time the Wall Street bank has teamed with a technology company. Apple and Goldman Sachs joined forces to release the Apple Card in June. Through the Apple Card, Goldman Sachs has extended $10 billion in credit to Apple customers. That alliance has served Goldman well, but at the expense of Marcus. The Marcus brand has seen little in the way of growth in loans, as Goldman has purposely slowed business at Marcus to focus on the Apple Card. If Goldman Sachs is able to have similar successes with Amazon and at the same time increase its retail business, which is still a tiny component of its revenue, it could be a boon to its growth and thus its stock.