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Why Amazon Says It Won't Be Taking on the Big Banks Anytime Soon

Kristen Bellstrom
Why Amazon Says It Won't Be Taking on the Big Banks Anytime Soon

With Facebook announcing plans to launch Libra, a cryptocurrency, we appear to be entering in a new era of big tech wading into major financial undertakings.

So, should we expect a significant move from Amazon on that front? Perhaps a digital currency of it’s own—or a push to compete with the big banks by offering other types of financial products?

Not anytime soon, said Patrick Gauthier, Vice President of Amazon Pay, speaking at Fortune‘s inaugural Brainstorm Finance conference in Montauk, N.Y. on Wednesday.

“At Amazon, we don’t really deal in the speculative,�� he said. Instead, the company lets data—of which it has quite a bit—drive its decision making about new products. “We always start from an identified need that we have the capacity solve,” Gauthier added. Another requirement: the solution must have the ability to scale.

“The fact that we can build something doesn’t mean that we should,” he told the crowd.

When it comes to dabbling in the financial realm, the mega-retailer prefers to go the partnership route. “Amazon is a very pragmatic company,” Gauthier said. The key questions the company asks itself are, “What do we have to build, who do we have to partner with,” he said.

As an example, Gauthier pointed to a partnership the company recently launched with Synchrony, whose CEO Margaret Keane was also on the panel. Called “Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder,” the new card lets consumers with bad or no credit put down a refundable security deposit, which is used to set the card’s total credit limit. And in using the product, shoppers have the ability to build credit and improve their score.

Keane noted that Synchrony’s partnership with Amazon—the financial company provides white label cards to the retailer—goes back more than decade. She says she considers serving Amazon’s customers “a huge responsibility.” Such important partnerships incentivize the company to provide Amazon shoppers with the best possible experience, says Keane: “We have to deliver.”

More must-read stories from Fortune Brainstorm Finance:

Brainstorm Finance 2019: Watch the livestream of the inaugural conference

—Bank of America CEO: “We want a cashless society

—Tala CEO: How Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency can help companies scale

—Charles Schwab CEO: Actually, we’re killing it with millennials

—Listen to our new audio briefing, Fortune 500 Daily

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