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Bringing customers into the fight

It takes guts and a strong brand to involve customers in a fight which is primarily between two corporates.

Amazon did just this by telling customers before Christmas that VISA credit cards would be banned from January 19th. There is nothing like inconveniencing customers to galvanise action. The timing of the move was significant - ensuring the message hit home harder as people turned to Amazon for Christmas shopping, but it also left time before January 19 for a compromise to be reached.

This is a discussion they have presumably been having behind closed doors for quite some time – a battle that Amazon clearly felt it needed to take to the next level. You can bet Bezos’ crew have negotiated great rates with all the other credit card suppliers. The fact they are happy to take Amex when many other retailers won’t, implies that even Amex has made a deal with Amazon that it is willing to accept.

The fact Amazon offered £20 for some Prime customers to switch from Visa to an alternative payment method puts a value on those invisible agreements.

It seems to have worked: Visa are backing down...but I wonder what the cost has been to the Visa brand?


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