Amazon's advance on bank lending operations is picking up steam as the online mall releases figures showing that it lent more than $1 billion to small businesses in the last 12 months.
Amazon Lending offers short-term business loans, for up to 12 months, to invited micro, small and medium businesses. Amazon's intimate understanding of merchant sales patterns though its online marketplace means that it can identify small traders with strong potential who wouldn't otherwise qualify for a typical bank loan.
The company mines data from more than two million active sellers on its Website to identify those who are most creditworthy, offering advances of between $1,000 to $750,000 payable within one year.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant says it has lent more than $3 billion to over 20,000 merchants since inaugurating the programme in 2011. The operation is proving so popular that Amazon is seeing a 50% return rate for a repeat loan from merchants invited to take part.
"We know that an infusion of capital at the right moment can put a small business on the path to even greater success,” says Peeyush Nahar, Vice President for Amazon Marketplace. “Amazon is providing capital to small businesses to help them expand inventory and operations at a critical period of their growth.”
PayPal and Square run similar merchant credit operations, basing their loans on algorithms that scour sales and payment data to identify the most creditworthy customers. PayPal says it has so far issued more than $3 billion in working capital to merchants on its roster, while Square claims to have lent $1.5 billion since launching its own programme in 2014.