Goldman Sachs-Amazon Deal to Offer Small Business Loans in the Works

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Amazon Goldman Sachs Partnership
Tech giant Amazon is reportedly in talks with Goldman Sachs to offer business loans to those small and medium sized merchants operating on its marketplace, according to sources that the FT describes as “two people briefed on the discussions with the online retailer.” One of these sources said that it could launch as soon as March.

The news comes after CEO David Soloman spoke at the bank’s Investor Day recently, explaining that Goldman would be pursuing a “banking-as-a-service” model this year that would see the bank white labeling their products for third parties to use. As well as this, Solomon commented on a shareholders call last week that the bank is seeking to increase revenues from new channels such as consumer banking and wealth management.

One such channel is Goldman’s partnership with Apple last summer that saw the launch of Apple Card, a credit card solely available to Apple’s +100 million users in the US. The card’s launch was lauded by Solomon; and according to Business Insider, cardholders had $736 million in loan balances by the end of September, one month after the card was released to the public.

The Apple and Amazon deals highlight how Wall Street banks are employing and partnering with Big Tech to leverage advantage over fintechs, and ultimately gain access into markets that are historically not domains of the uber rich. Traditionally a bank that catered to elites, Goldman Sachs has been edging its way into consumer and small business banking ever since the launch of Marcus, its personal banking platform.

Amazon has been offering loans to merchants on its platform since 2011, using algorithms to determine which sellers would be best positioned to receive and repay a loan. Having previously partnered with Bank of America to finance such loans, the terms of these were for 12 months or less, with amounts funded ranging from $1,000 to $750,000. According to the FT, Amazon had $863 million in outstanding SMB loans on its balance sheet as of the end of 2019.

The digital nature of Amazon’s marketplace would accommodate Goldman Sachs’ neglect of brick-and-mortars stores, which have historically been a waypoint for small- and medium-sized businesses seeking finance.

LendIt Chairman and Co-founder Peter Renton described Goldman’s progression in the fintech space as “impressive,” noting that the speed at which it has been operating isn’t to be overlooked: “I thought something like this would happen but not in such a short space of time. Apple Card was only six months ago.”

As well as this, Renton was wary of how expansive the deal would be, admitting skepticism of it being a large project for either company. Given how both Amazon and Goldman have shown themselves to be selective in who they provide financing for, this assessment may prove correct.

Last modified: February 3, 2020
Brendan Garrett

Category: Banking, Business Lending


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