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Amazon reaches out to underbanked with new program

Sep 21, 2017 MicroBilt News

Amazon reaches out to underbanked with new program

In a bid to increase its customer base and make the shopping experience more convenient and user-friendly, the world's largest e-commerce company is expanding the options buyers have to purchase various product offerings featured online.

For e-commerce shoppers in the U.K., Amazon recently introduced Top Up. The service is specifically geared toward the underbanked - those who don't have a bank account or access to traditional forms of credit - by giving cash-only customers the ability to stretch their currency further. As detailed at its website, Top Up provides barcodes that customers can print out or download to their devices. They can then take the codes to stores participating in the Top Up program, along with the cash they wish to apply to their accounts. Once implemented, the service works as a pre-paid card, deducting from the overall total with every purchase. However, unlike gift cards, the balance eventually expires should the amount go unused after 10 years.

Amazon Cash introduced in April
As noted by TechCrunch, the online retailer introduced a similar program for U.S. consumers earlier this year, called Amazon Cash. The service enables customers to apply up to $500 in bills to their accounts, all of which can be withdrawn in a single transaction if they so choose.

"87% of Americans used cash to pay for goods and services in 2016."

Although the advancement of technology has made alternative payments more convenient for Americans, cash remains king. In the last year, for instance, approximately 87 percent of consumers used cash in purchase-related transactions, according to Blackhawk Network. Although that's down from 2015 - when 93 percent used bills or coins - it remains well ahead of other payment options, such as checks (60 percent) and credit cards (69 percent).

Over 15 million Americans considered unbanked
While cash may often be used because it's readily available and widely accepted, it may be the only option for those who don't have access to bank accounts for whatever reason. In 2015 - the latest year for which data is available - approximately 7 percent of households in the U.S were unbanked, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That translates to roughly 9 million households, or 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children.

The underbanked, meanwhile, represent a more sizeable portion of the country's population. Nearly 1 in 5 households were underbanked in 2015, according to the FDIC's analysis, or 24.5 million households. This is the equivalent of 67.4 million adults and children combined.

In addition to providing customers with more purchasing options, companies that offer a variety of payment methods can expand their loyalty base by enabling them to make smarter, more well-informed credit scoring decisions. With decisioning tools like MLA Verify, businesses can reach the underbanked more effectively and offer them an opportunity to improve their quality of living, thanks to the reliability that alternative credit reporting offers. Find out more about how MicroBilt enables businesses to successfully assess and manage risk.