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  • In 2018, Amazon was reportedly in talks with US banking institutions to build a checking-account product to "appeal to younger customers and those without bank accounts."[1] By approaching existing banks to partner, Amazon "appeared to be working to avoid becoming a bank itself, with all of the associated regulations."[2]
  • According to CNBC, the company’s plan to brand the accounts under the names of partner banks showed their key motivation was customer data and being able to see what consumers spend their money on in order to get a leg up on Amazon in the online search battle.[3]
  • The checking accounts were never actually launched and were scrapped in October 2021 after several missed deadlines.
  • In July 2016, Amazon joined Wells Fargo to offer private student loans to prime members, offering a 0.5% interest rate discount.[4]
  • The company was quickly assailed by consumer advocates for touting private loans over more affordable options with better protections.[5]
  • The fine print for the program also said Wells Fargo could end the discount at any time.
  • The Consumers Union criticized Amazon for misleading students and trying to nudge them into signing up for riskier loans.
  • The Institute for College Access & Success blasted the company for trumpeting the discount while burying the sky-high rates of the loans.
    • Exec VP Of The Institute for College Access & Success: “This is the kind of misleading private loan marketing that was rampant before the financial crisis.”
  • Amazon was also criticized for working with Wells Fargo, which had just settled charges brought by the CFPB that it had misled borrowers and illegally charged fees.
  • The student loan partnership was shuttered six weeks after launching, with Amazon refusing to explain why the program had ended.