Can Amazon Take on American Express, Visa in Payments Space?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN) has plenty of initiatives on its plate, but one that may be too tough to tackle is the issue of payments, despite how dominant the company is in e-commerce.

In an interview with Re/Code, Amazon payments head Tom Taylor said if the company felt it could offer something different or better than current payment network providers, America Express (AXP) and Visa (V), they would offer it. Further in the piece, Re/Code cites industry sources "familiar with Amazon's business" as believing that Amazon will get into this business, and that it's a matter of when, not if.

Here's Taylor's quote from the Re/Code interview:

"If we felt like we could do a better job than Amex and Visa, and feel like it helps the customer experience, that's something we would do," he said. "But it would really have to be something much better than [what they do]."

Taylor's statement about competing with American Express and Visa is worth paying attention to, for a multitude of reasons. American Express, like a traditional bank, a la JPMorgan (JPM) or Bank of America (BAC), has credit risk. If a customer defaults or does not pay the outstanding debt on their credit card, American Express must charge this debt off, although not before trying to collect on it, similar to a bad mortgage or other loan from a financial institution. The company also has its own payment processing network.

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