Will new payment options make Amazon Prime memberships even more popular?
Amazon.com has recently announced new ways to pay that may expand the rolls of its Prime subscription program and make it more likely that consumers will turn to the e-tailer when making purchases.
Earlier this month, Amazon announced a new program to open Prime memberships to low-income consumers. Americans who have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card used to make purchases as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) are eligible for a one-year membership to Prime billed at $5.99 a month. Amazon plans to add other ways for consumers participating in government assistance programs to qualify without the use of an EBT card.
Prime for those receiving government assistance comes with all the features enjoyed by the 80 million members that Consumer Intelligence Research Partners has reported are currently enrolled in the program in the U.S.
This is not the first step Amazon has taken to reach out to lower income consumers. In April, the company launched Amazon Cash, which allows people visiting brick and mortar stores, such as CVS, to deposit between $15 and $500 in cash into an Amazon account by presenting a barcode at the checkout. The program, which is not tied to Prime memberships, is intended to give unbanked (17 million) and “underbanked” (51 million) Americans access to Amazon.
Unrelated to income, Amazon this week announced the launch of Prime Reload, a new program that offers subscribers the option of earning a two percent credit on their gift card balances when they use their debit cards to pay for purchases.
To set up the feature, Prime members supply Amazon with their debit card number, bank account and routing information and their driver license number. They then transfer funds from their account directly to their gift card balance to make future purchases and receive their credits.
The move, as The Verge reports, makes sense for Amazon because it gives the retailer a way to avoid fees on credit cards while providing a tangible reward for customers.
- Amazon Introduces Discounted Monthly Prime Offer for Customers Receiving Government Assistance – Amazon.com
- Amazon is now bribing Prime members to avoid credit card fees – The Verge
- Can Amazon Cash open e-commerce up to millions of underbanked consumers? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will expanded payment options help Amazon expand the numbers of Prime subscribers? Will the new options increase the amount of money that Amazon members, Prime or otherwise, spend on the site? What are the implications for Amazon’s competitors?