Gonzo Views on Banking


In this series of videos, Steve Williams and Scott Sommer of Cornerstone Advisors interview industry leaders for their views on the capital investments that banks should make in today’s bull market, how to position the bank to excel after the deal is done and how acquirers should approach technology contracts early in the M&A process.

Improving Governance By Using Board Portals


board-portal-12-11-17.pngIf you counted the minutes in a day that you save because of technology, it would add up to quite a bit. With so many issues confronting financial boards, adequate time for strategic planning is a valuable commodity, so time is exactly what busy board members of financial institutions need.

Changes in the economy and the financial markets have complicated matters for boards of all sizes. Larger banks and conglomerates are finding it difficult to adapt to increasing regulations. Community banks are finding it harder to compete with larger banks. At the same time, financial institutions are finding it difficult to provide the level of technology that their customers want and need, in addition to other significant strategic issues.

Board portals help directors focus more of their time on strategic decisions. These portals have all of the features that directors need, and ensure that the information they need is available to them wherever they are, while also remaining secure.

Preparing board handbooks manually with paper copies and binders places a huge burden on the board secretary. Every time a board meeting approaches, the secretary spends countless hours copying and collating documents, and filing them into the proper sections of the handbook. Updating a board portal requires some work on the part of board secretaries, but they only have to upload a document one time. And secretaries can limit access to certain documents only to the people who need to view them.

In addition to the time savings, board portals provide material and environmental savings. Financial institutions save the cost of reams of copy paper, other office supplies and the labor to assemble board books. The savings can net banks upwards of $1,100 per board meeting. Board portals are environmentally friendly as well. Banks and credit unions contribute less paper to the landfills, and they expend less electricity to produce it. According to a recent analysis by Diligent, boards of banks and credit unions can save up to $10,000 a year by using a board portal.

Board Portals Provide Mobility and Improve Security
There’s nothing worse than the panic that a director of a bank feels in learning that an important piece of paper is missing from the board book. This could happen easily enough with busy board members who travel often for business and pleasure as they juggle suitcases and briefcases in cars and on airplanes. Board portals let busy directors access their board documents with ease on any electronic device, including laptops, tablets and phones. Directors no longer need to lug heavy board books through busy airports and risk valuable information getting into the wrong hands. Most board portals have a double authentication process with a user ID, password and scrambled PIN code, so even if an electronic device gets lost or stolen, sensitive board information remains safe and secure.

Choosing a Board Portal
While board portals are generally intuitive and user-friendly, some directors who are not adept at technology may find that they have a learning curve. But most board directors adapt quickly with a little training and experimentation.
Board portals for banks are a single tool that stores meeting materials, communications, bylaws, archived documents and more in neatly arranged files. Many of the features that board portals provide are of great use to directors, particularly board rosters, board biographies, electronic surveys, voting history and shared notations. Many portals also have a built-in time tracker, so directors know how much time they are spending on board business. This feature can help boards evaluate whether directors are dedicating enough time to board service to comply with proper governance principles. Once they get used to the tool, board members appreciate the ease of posting news items, linking documents, sharing agenda items and calendars, and using the chat and email features. Premium products may also include offline capability, which is an important feature for many bank board directors.

Look for a board portal product that is easy to use and that has knowledgeable customer service support that is available around the clock. As with most products that consumers buy, less expensive board portals aren’t necessarily the best value. Board directors will spend a significant amount of time on the portal, so it’s best to conduct a thorough review of the features, usability, speed and functionality before investing in a portal. The right board portal will do all that you need it to do and more.

Responding to Change



Changes are occurring both within and outside of the financial community, and boards and management teams of today’s banks should be proactively working to determine how and where innovative technologies will help their bank attract customers, gain efficiencies and enhance their cybersecurity protections. Al Dominick, CEO of Bank Director and FinXTech, explains how directors should approach technological change and strategic issues that should be on the board’s agenda.

Topics include:

  • Board Practices to Get Smart on Technology
  • How to Approach Strategic Discussions
  • Five Fast-Growing Areas Boards Should Address
  • Focusing on the Future

A glossary of banking terms is included with each video unit.

About the Presenter:
Al Dominick is the Chief Executive Officer of DirectorCorps, Inc., which includes Bank Director and FinXTech. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the strategy, operations and financial performance of the company. Al joined the company in 2010 and regularly speaks at conferences and writes for BankDirector.com. In addition, he frequently meets with CEOs, chairmen, C-level executives and members of a board, the men and women that run companies that provide services and support to these officers and directors, bank analysts, private equity executives and institutional investors.

Al is a graduate of Washington & Lee University, where he was a four-year letterman on the varsity baseball team, and earned an MBA from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. His financial and technology background includes positions with Board Member, Inc., Bank Director’s previous company which is now part of the New York Stock Exchange, and Computech, a Bethesda, Maryland-based information technology firm now part of NCI (NASDAQ: NCIT).

Are You Losing Business to Alternative Lenders?


lending-10-2-17.pngEvery relationship manager assumes that their clients would never go to another lender for a loan. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth, and the data proves it. Banks are starting to notice a trend in their existing client base. Their customers are receiving more and more outside financing from alternative lenders with each passing year. In some cases, this has grown by 55 percent a year since 2014. Small business owners are doing this for two main reasons: Applying for a loan online is fast and convenient, and it’s the path of least resistance to acquiring the money they need to help their business succeed.

Here are a few questions to determine whether your clients are moving to alt lenders:

  1. Does your bank avoid small business loans because they can’t do them profitably?
  2. Has your institution pin-pointed the number of online defectors in its own client base? Has your team dug deep into transaction records to see what percent of small-business customers are making regular payments to online lenders?

Be prepared to see some shocking numbers, which leads to the next question: How will you stop the exodus? Better customer service and product awareness? Sure, letting your existing customers know you provide small business lending services is a great start but one thing alternative lenders have that most financial institutions don’t is a well-designed, quick and easy, self-service online application.

When financial institutions dig deeper into their own customer data, they begin to see that even the most credit worthy clients with highly successful businesses and great credit scores are using alternative lenders. They might need money quickly and know traditional banks take several weeks to process a paper loan application. Or they simply might not have the time to go to a bank during regular business hours and instead prefer (and are willing to pay more for) the convenience and flexibility provided by alternative lenders that offer a 24/7 omni-channel-accessible application.

Providing a better experience for your clients is becoming a must. This includes having an application available to clients at any time on any device. And the technology has to accommodate every client’s and prospect’s preference, providing the option to complete the application on their own, or sit down with their banker to complete the application together. The improvement in the customer experience “lift” from technology also needs to go beyond the application, to include streamlining and speeding up all aspects of the end-to-end lending process, from decisioning to closing.

Building technology into the lending process will stop your customers from looking elsewhere. However, the benefits of such a partnership don’t just stop with the customer experience enhancements. Banks using a technology-based, end-to-end lending platform will see a significant reduction in the cost-per-loan-booked, enabling the institution to make even the smallest loans more profitable. Banker productivity and engagement also are positively impacted by technology. With the right partner, front office bankers are freed up from the responsibilities of shepherding loans through the process and instead can focus on acquiring new relationships, or expanding current ones. Back office bankers spend minutes analyzing each deal instead of hours, enabling them to focus on deeper inspection into larger deals, or diving into a “second look” process to try to turn “declines” into “approvals”.

Technology, when leveraged appropriately, enhances the relationship between banker and client, enabling the banker to provide more value and deliver a much better customer experience. When that happens, clients will no longer need to explore alternative/online lenders because their financial institution will be delivering the convenience, speed and path of least resistance to the cash they need to grow their business. The institution benefits from reduced costs, increased customer and employee retention, as well as portfolio and overall growth in revenue-per-customer.

Digital Innovation: From the Boardroom to Execution


innovation-8-28-17.pngThe pace of innovation is increasing exponentially. For traditional financial services firms, partnerships with new technology companies are now essential for driving digital change and staying competitive in today’s environment. The move toward a distributed economy and digital transformation is manifesting differently in jurisdictions around the world. The United States and Europe are driving early idea creation, while companies located in the Asia-Pacific region and the United Arab Emirates are gaining strong momentum boosted by a pro-innovation regulatory environment.

Now more than ever, the right investments made in technology and innovation have serious and material implications to the long-term success and viability of a business. Missing opportunities to capitalize on new technology to enhance capabilities, products and services could result in lost market share, reduced ability to participate in upside gains of new business models, inability to capture the customers of the future, and in the worst case, extinction altogether. Institutions that are able to re-imagine their business, maximize investments in technology and evolve their business effectively to harness the current innovation cycle will determine the next generation’s winners and losers.

Typically, firms have approached digital innovation or large-scale technology change projects facing their organization with a “build versus buy” philosophy. Today, with the emergence of innovative fintech companies, which are more nimble and faster to market than legacy financial institutions, the transformation decision has now expanded to encompass: build, buy, invest or invent. Each option must be evaluated in the larger context of the ultimate business strategy and desired outcome. Navigating through the options, complexity and uncertainty to ensure optimal choices are made is no easy feat. Further complicating matters are budgetary constraints, board members who don’t understand how technology can enable the business objectives and turnover of executive leadership driving the multi-year transformation.

Similarly, business change projects have primarily focused on three elements within the organization: people, processes and tools. For digitalization in today’s environment, this approach needs to ensure an agile, actively managed and risk-aware approach around six key elements:

  1. Strategic alignment
  2. People
  3. Processes
  4. Technology
  5. Customer experience
  6. Partnerships

All of these aspects need to align to drive business value and outcomes, which should be orchestrated meticulously for a digital transformation project to succeed. Few companies are integrating and delivering all six aspects well across the dimensions for their digital transformation and innovation projects. Consequently such projects often fail or the desired outcomes aren’t realized due to the high interdependence of the elements working in unison. This results in delays and large investments where the business is realizing value far below expectations, which leads to a loss of board advocacy and support from the business. This in turn leads to reduced future investment that only puts the organization at even more risk. In contrast, successful companies are able to work across those six dimensions seamlessly in a manner that is more efficient, risk sensitive, compliant with regulations, well controlled and enabled by leading technology and data to emerge as the digital leaders of the future.

Technology is the future and the ability to enhance and unlock new capabilities through digital channels can drive tremendous value for industries. Being able to discern value-add investments in innovation that complement the business and preserve the value through the transformation process versus just chasing new shiny objects will be increasingly important to do well. Furthermore, the ability to effectively measure against value drivers such as revenue growth, simplification, speed-to-market and competitive positioning will help to validate return on investment. In reviewing the upside potential, it is also important to be aware of risks and consequences if digital transformation programs are not implemented effectively.

With proper planning and execution, organizations can drive business outcomes, realize benefits and better mitigate risk through digital investments by understanding and implementing digital transformation programs effectively around these six elements.

The Rise of the Subscription Society: Three Important Takeaways for Banks


revenue-8-11-17.pngSubscription services are spreading like wildfire with huge leaps in subscription rates. Amazon Prime saw a 22 million household jump in 12 months, with 85 million Americans currently subscribed. Spotify started in 2011 with just 1 million subscribers and now, just 6 years later, has grown to 50 million paid subscribers. Then there’s Netflix, which just announced it has over 100 million total subscribers, about half of them in the U.S.

Success like this illustrates the subscription model isn’t merely a transactional structure, but has become the way for modern consumers to purchase (i.e. access to and use of product in reasonable installment payments as opposed to buying a product outright and owning it). Banks looking to make their products more attractive to consumers can use these companies’ successes as a model for their own service offerings.

So what makes the subscription-based model so compelling?

High Value, Low Cost
Subscription models provide a high amount of value at a lower cost than purchasing a product outright.

Take Amazon Prime, for example. Members are able to gain access to a large, discounted marketplace of products, free or discounted shipping that will deliver most purchases directly to their doors in under 48 hours, access to video streaming, music streaming, book libraries and personalized recommendations for just $10.99 per month (or discounted to $100 a year if they prepay in advance). These savings not only help the consumer save but also indirectly result in the development of healthier financial habits through Amazon’s network of discounts.

Amazon-Prime-chart-md.png

Spotify’s high value, low cost model offers the ability to pay a low monthly fee for access to unlimited music streaming as opposed to paying for each song individually or buying the DVD.

And a bank is taking notice of and acting on this subscription success. To make the Spotify subscription even more valuable, it has teamed with Capital One to reduce the monthly fee by 50 percent for 50 million potential customers, if the monthly payment source is a Capital One credit card.

Netflix-chart-md.png

Personalized Experience
Subscription services are also usually molded around the subscriber’s habits and preferences to deliver a personalized experience. Personalization ensures value is relevant to individual subscribers, as these services usually offer a wide library of products to ensure they’re universally appealing and accommodate various consumer needs.

This is another example where Spotify delivers. The service includes a so-called Discover portal dedicated to helping users find new music they would enjoy based on their streaming history and even delivers custom playlists on a weekly basis. Netflix and Amazon Prime also create a personalized list of recommendations and display them prominently on their websites so that users are immediately greeted by a relevant experience.

Banks have tremendous access to customers to provide relevant and timely offers and personalized deliverables to encourage engagement that goes beyond just traditional transactional experiences.

Convenience and Instant Access
In today’s technology-rich culture, consumers have come to expect instant access to the services, information and products they need. The subscription model was purposely built around providing convenience and immediacy.
In the not-so-distant past before Netflix, consumers would have to visit a video store or a movie theater if they wanted to watch a title on demand. More recently, they could order movies on demand from their cable or satellite providers, but this required purchasing titles individually and was often costly.

However, with video streaming services like Netflix, consumers now have a whole library of movies and TV shows to stream on demand whenever they want and they don’t have to purchase each title separately. Instead, they have access to Netflix’s full library for only $7.99 per month, which is about equivalent to purchasing one title.

Spotify-chart-md.png

Banks, of course, do have online and mobile banking products. What banks haven’t been able to do is fully monetize, with recurring revenue, this convenience and instant access. The next logical step is to find what new, non-traditional services can be instantly delivered through online and mobile platforms that customers will pay for.

The subscription model that delivers value, personalization and instant access can be successful for banks looking to build a more marketable brand and a larger and steadier stream of revenue. Amazon Prime, Spotify and Netflix are clearly examples of top performers of this model, but banks need to search out ways they can make their products more attractive and provide a value-rich, relevant and convenient experience for their customers.

A Buyers Guide to Small Business Lending Software


lending-8-7-17.pngIs digitizing your small business lending a priority for your bank? Increased efficiency, profitability, productivity and enhanced customer experience are all reasons why it should be. For example, in most banks the administrative and overhead costs to underwrite a $50,000 loan and a $1 million loan are essentially the same. Wouldn’t it be great to free up your team to focus on the most important thing—the customer—and let the technology take of the rest?

Here are nine questions to ask when you start talking to fintech companies that sell small business lending software:

  1. Is the software able to conform to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and best practices? According to the American Bankers Association there have been over 244 federal lawsuits since 2015 that have been filed alleging that people with disabilities are denied access to online goods and services in violation of ADA. The Department of Justice, the agency charged with ADA enforcement, has delayed website accessibility regulations until 2018, but can your bank really afford to wait?
  2. Does it improve the borrower and banker experience? It’s not enough to digitize your applications. What your small business lending software must do is improve your current process for everyone by offering a well thought-out and well-designed user experience that’s intuitive, reduces end-to-end time and helps increase profits.
  3. Will it use your bank’s credit policy? Black box credit policies should be a thing of the past but they still show up in loan origination software. Find a technology that respects the bank’s risk profile and reflects its credit criteria and corporate values.
  4. Does it offer an omnichannel application and borrower portal? Borrowers want the ability to start and finish an application on your website any time of day or night, either on their own or with the help of their banker. Look for a technology that doesn’t eliminate the banker-client relationship, but rather, enhances it.
  5. How quickly will it fit in with your current workflow? The goal should be a quick and seamless transition from paper to digital, but sometimes there isn’t a straight line. Perhaps your financial institution desires the ability to digitize the application process but still wants to manually control the underwriting and spreading process. Look for a platform that has the ability to grow with your workflow and is designed in a way that accommodates your approach to using technology.
  6. Are they a partner or a competitor? More and more alternative lenders are starting to see a benefit in partnering with banks. But will you find out later that your ‘partner’ is competing in your own back yard for the same loans you are trying to acquire through them. Find a platform that’s in the business of helping banks, not replacing them.
  7. Does the platform provide actionable analytics? The platform’s analytics must be able to provide banks with insight into their loan program that is almost impossible to track manually. Find a platform that truly maximizes the data collected by, or generated from, the technology to provide rich analytics like pipeline management, process tracking, customer experience feedback and exception tracking. This will enable managers to manage better, sales people to sell more effectively and customers to be more fully served.
  8. What are the fraud detection and prevention resources used to keep you and your customers safe? As your bank offers more digital options, criminals will devise more sophisticated and hard-to-detect fraud methods. Your bank should only seek a technology partner that has security at the top of its priority list.
  9. Will it be easier for borrowers to complete applications, and for bankers to decide on and process applications accurately and efficiently? The goal for most banks wanting to implement a small business loan origination platform is to reduce end-to-end time, increase profits and give both customers and its own staff a better experience. Make sure the software is designed with this in mind. It should be simple and intuitive for perspective borrowers to use, and it should lessen the time bankers have to touch the loan, freeing up both front and back office teams to maximize their productivity.

Your institution is unique, so you’ll need to find a technology partner that celebrates that individuality rather than changes it. Use these questions as a foundation from which you can fully explore all of your options and find the partner that will bring you the most value.

Nine Steps for Getting Your Contracts Aligned with Your Acquisition Strategy


acquisition-8-2-17.pngAs banks contemplate future mergers and acquisitions, we are hearing a common question in our vendor contracts practice: “What should I do in my contracts to prepare for an acquisition opportunity?”

The truth is that whether buying or selling, there are many steps bankers can take to prepare for an acquisition, but they need to be taken well in advance. Here are some secrets from behind the curtain.

For banks that are serial acquirers:

1. Perform serious due diligence on the target’s technology contracts and your own.
Review the large technology agreements of the target bank using the 80/20 rule–80 percent of your spending is going to be in a handful of agreements. When you’re done reviewing the target’s contracts, review your own. This will provide a high-level view of your entire vendor relationship. Reviewing the target’s contracts will show your costs to exit their agreements. Looking at the target’s contracts in relation to your own will show opportunities for consolidating vendors and services at reduced rates.

2. Look for opportunities where you can take advantage of your vendor relationships.
If you use one vendor for core processing and you are buying a bank that uses another vendor, your onetime costs for the technology conversion and ongoing expenses will be entirely different than if you are both using the same vendor. Understand your leverage in these situations. If your target is using different systems than you are, an acquisition takes a competitor out of business. If your target is using the same systems as you are, then you are going to be paying for processing the same accounts twice for a period if you don’t negotiate differently.

3. Have pricing established that takes advantage of acquisition volume growth.
As the acquirer, you need to establish pricing that decreases on a per-customer basis as you grow. Negotiating tiers for your major pricing components is a basic requirement. Your goal should be to negotiate tiers that are market priced and are commensurate with the volume that will be loaded on during a five-year term. This could be substantial if you are in an aggressive growth mode.

4. Establish a firm understanding with your vendor about staffing conversions.
Moving quickly during acquisitions is par for the course. Your vendor’s ability to convert your target’s accounts to your system in a timely manner is vital. Best practice would be to negotiate with your vendor in advance for professional services to support your acquisition plan. This could include negotiating for a fixed number of conversions per year along with expectations for how long a conversion will take.

5. Manage your termination costs for acquired technology.
Smart buyers know that a vendor is due a fair share of its committed revenue and reasonable termination costs and no more. Negotiate with your current vendor for language that recognizes when you acquire a bank using their technology, you should only have to pay for any given account once. This can materially reduce your liquidated damages and termination penalties when you buy a bank using your vendor’s technology.

For banks that wish to be acquired:

6. Keep your contract terms to two or three years at most.
It’s never good to have long terms for your technology contracts if you are looking for a buyer. Even suitors using technology that is similar to yours will not want to pay for your commitments.

7. Keep your terms aligned.
I’ve seen a target bank’s contracts with a mix of long and short durations. This can look bad to a potential suitor.

8. Use standard technologies.
Buying a one-off solution or technology to get a competitive edge or save a few dollars is a non-starter if you are looking to sell. Software, services or equipment that can’t be reused or interfaced with the new bank’s core will run up your acquirer’s costs.

9. Negotiate decent pricing and known exit costs.
Keeping your costs in line is very important. Even if your contracts will be superseded by your buyer’s contracts, the liquidated damages to shut down your contracts are directly related to your pricing. If your pricing is three times market pricing, your buyer’s costs to get out of your agreement are going to be three times market. Your costs to de-convert from the system should be plainly laid out along with a clear and fair definition of what your liquidated damages will be.

Growth that comes to your vendors through acquisition increases their market share without the usual upfront costs associated with bringing on business. They want to see you succeed, so work closely with them to make it happen.

How a Board Can Become a Strategic Asset



Issues like cybersecurity, digital transformation and future business models now require the attention of not just management teams, but also bank boards. As directors engage more deeply in these issues, Bill Fisher of Diligent explains how they can enhance the effectiveness of the board to be a true strategic asset to the bank.

  • The Board’s Role as a Strategic Asset
  • Enhancing Board Effectiveness
  • Addressing Board Skills

Why Your Bank Should Be Watching Amazon


amazon-7-7-17.pngCould Amazon be a threat to banks? The online retailer announced in June that its Amazon Lending program, a small-business loan service that the company began offering in 2011, had surpassed $3 billion in loans globally, to more than 20,000 small businesses. One-third of those loans—$1 billion—were created in the past year, making it larger than most small banks.

Competition from nonbanks in small business lending isn’t new. But while lending startups in the past have often excelled in technology, they struggled to gain customers, and funding was more expensive than for traditional banks. In contrast, banks have had the expertise and relationships, and can fund loans more cheaply.

Amazon’s loan growth may represent a new phase in loan disruption, according to Karen Mills, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Having a pipeline into a set of small business owners who are doing business with the platform, knowing a lot of data about their business, could very well be the equivalent of a customer pipeline that’s unparalleled except at some of the most important traditional banks,” Mills says.

Amazon isn’t putting banks out of business, at least not in the foreseeable future. While 20,000 small businesses and $3 billion in loans is nothing to sneeze at, the program is invitation-only and limited to Amazon sellers, with the company leveraging its data on its client businesses to make credit decisions.

“Amazon looks at everything as basically a use case,” says Steve Williams, a partner at Cornerstone Advisors, based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Is it something that we can do that the customer would want, can we technically deliver it, and can we make a business out of it?”

Banks should prepare for a reality, led by companies such as Amazon, where customers expect rapid credit decisions and an easy loan process. An employee describes the lending process as “three fields and three clicks” in a video published by Amazon in 2014.

“You can’t waste your customer’s time, and Amazon is relentless in trying to make things easier for its partners and customers,” says Dan O’Malley, the chief executive officer at Boston-based Numerated Growth Technologies, which spun off from Eastern Bank’s lab unit in May. That unit developed an express business loan program for the bank, and banks can now license the lending platform through Numerated.

Mills recommends that banks examine whether they want to grow their small business lending portfolio and if so, examine if they can provide the platform in-house or need to use an outside company.

Banks have been increasingly partnering with fintech firms, but Amazon’s suitability as a partner is debatable: O’Malley says Amazon is notoriously difficult to work with. But Amazon seems open to relationships of convenience. JPMorgan Chase & Co. offers an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa credit card, which gives 5 percent cash back to Amazon Prime members on their Amazon.com purchases. BBVA Compass has been testing the Amazon Locker program in its Austin, Texas, branches, so Amazon customers can safely and conveniently pick up their orders. Presumably, this would drive more traffic to BBVA’s branches.

And there’s Alexa, Amazon’s voice-operated digital assistant, which is used in Internet-enabled speakers such as the Echo. So far, Capital One Financial Corp. and American Express are among the few financial institutions whose customers can use Alexa for tasks like making a credit card payment or getting details on spending.

Amazon sees promise in its voice-enabled devices. “We’re doubling down on that investment,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said in Amazon’s first quarter 2017 earnings call. With the Echo, Dot and Tap products, Amazon has about 70 percent of the smart speaker market cornered, according to TechCrunch.

“Voice commerce and having to deal with voice as a channel is an important thing that [banks] are going to have to figure out,” says James Wester, the research director responsible for the global payments practice at IDC Financial Insights.

Amazon likely doesn’t have its sights set on becoming a bank—at least not for now, says Wester. But the company’s customer-first approach to improving processes is setting the tone for commerce, and if Amazon thinks it can make life easier for its customers and make money doing it, it won’t shy away from competing with the banking industry.

The possibilities are endless. Amazon unveiled its Amazon Vehicles webpage as a research tool for consumers in 2016, and the retailer is gearing up to sell cars online in Europe, according to Reuters. “There’s no reason that people won’t say, ‘I’m going to buy my car through Amazon and finance it,’” says Cornerstone’s Williams. Auto loans may very well be the next financial product on Amazon’s radar, and then, what’s next?