01/10/2020

Amazon is testing a marketplace where merchants can choose loans Goldman Sachs and other lenders, Business Insider has learned.

Amazon is testing a new online lending marketplace where merchants who sell their goods on the retail giant’s site can take out loans and lines of credit from lenders including Goldman Sachs and other banks, Business Insider has learned.
The marketplace shows a list of 3-to-12 month loans for the sellers to choose from, with a max loan size of $1 million for the first time, according to screenshots seen by Business Insider. Companies making the loan offers include Amazon’s own lending arm and Goldman Sachs’s Marcus division, as well as more regional firms like Lendmark and Finbank, the screenshots show. Amazon started inviting some of its top sellers for a beta test since at least late last year, one seller said.
The menu of loans represents Amazon’s latest move to expand its lending business, which began in 2011 but has until now been limited to Amazon offering credit directly to qualified merchants. Moving to a marketplace model could help reduce the financial risk for Amazon, as third-party banks make more loans, and help sellers get easier access to working capital for buying inventory.
“Amazon’s primary goal is to drive the ability of their merchants to scale bigger, faster, and better,” Schwark Satyavolu, an investor at Trinity Ventures, told Business Insider. “You can get more credit to more merchants in a marketplace model.”
Amazon announced in 2017 that it passed $3 billion in merchant loans, but has since stopped disclosing such details about its lending business. In its annual filing last week, Amazon said it had $863 million in outstanding loans as of the end of 2019, up about 21% from the previous year. The Financial Times first reported on the talks of a potential partnership between Amazon and Goldman Sachs on Monday, saying a new service could launch as soon as March.
It’s not clear whether the screenshots of the marketplace represent a new service that Amazon intends to launch broadly, or is simply part of a limited test for some merchants.
Amazon’s spokesperson did not immediatley have a comment.  
Screenshot of Amazon’s new lending marketplace
Business Insider
The screenshots show a simple, 4-step process through which Amazon merchants can apply for a loan. Third-party sellers first select the offer that best fits their needs, and then complete the application on the lender’s own website. Once approved, the funds are sent to the seller’s bank account. The loan offers seen by Business Insider go as low as $10,000 with an APR between 12% to 15%.
“Apply for a loan in minutes and get funded,” Amazon says, according to the screenshots.
One big change in Amazon’s new lending service is the line of credit it’s offering. Until now, Amazon has only offered term loans, which are lump sums of money repaid over a fixed period of time. A line of credit is more flexible for sellers because they can borrow and pay back money as needed, as long as they stay within their revolving credit limit. 
Another major change is the maximum loan size. In an email invitation to sellers, seen by Business Insider, Amazon said that it’s increasing its max loan offers to $1 million for the first time. 
“We have some special news. We increased our maximum loan size and for the first time we’re offering loans up to $1,000,000!” the email said.
The new marketplace model, however, could raise some data security concerns. It’s because sellers applying for a loan have to agree to a “data sharing agreement,” according to screenshots seen by Business Insider.
The agreement asks for the seller to authorize Amazon sharing the seller’s “name, sales information, and other available product and seller data on file with Amazon” with the third-party lender making the loan. One seller told Business Insider that he’s hesitant about applying because it’s unclear how the third-party banks plan to handle seller information.
“This information will be shared to help the lender make a decision about whether you quality for the loan,” the agreement says.