Of the many problems plaguing modern health care, payment processing has been a particularly difficult one to solve.
Amazon's recently announced pact with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway
may finally move health care payments into the modern age.
Details remain scarce. Other than references to technology development, there's not much about a product road map in the companies' announcement.
But there is considerable power the three participants have to influence finance and alter retail strategies of other companies. Buffett's ability
to drive narratives in the investment community is well known, and Amazon and Chase are both substantial brands with sizable merchant customer bases.
Amazon and Chase possess considerable tools that remove navigation, paper and labor from transactions, data management and processing. Many merchants already rely on Amazon for payments and other e-commerce services; they may be just as welcoming to an Amazon-developed approach to offering health care.JPMorgan Chase
has a diverse mobile-driven strategy that is changing the way it, and other financial institutions, engage with consumers. Chase Pay
has already won support
among retailers, building on the foundation of the Merchant Customer Exchange, a retailer-focused mobile payment system. It's also built on ChaseNet
, a collaboration between Chase and Visa to support transaction automation and other merchant services. ChaseNet serves as a merchant acquirer, the payment network and the payment card issuer.
The value of ChaseNet is that it streamlines workflow of processing payments, removing costs by removing several of the parties normally involved in handling a transaction. If this system is applied to health care, it could connect patients, medical care providers and insurance companies.
Combined with Amazon's e-commerce user experience, the collaboration would create a base for the two companies to approach health care providers and insurers with an e-commerce experience, mobile app and other merchant services that could be expanded with new technology, products and additional partners over time. Even if the three companies served only their own employees, there would still be a halo that could spark similar innovation elsewhere.