A growing number of Amazon’s top sellers is cropping up in China, and the company is implementing a new program to bolster these merchants’ success.
Amazon has extended its Lending Referral Program to Chinese merchants doing business on the platform, facilitating short-term loans from local lenders to help businesses purchase inventory and grow their operations, according to a post on the site’s seller’s forum.
More than 40 percent of Amazon’s top merchants are in China—a figure that has more than doubled since 2016, according to e-commerce analysis from Marketplace Pulse. Chinese sellers are able to price goods at a lower costs than sellers from other parts of the world, and they’re using that leg up to target U.S. consumers.
Amazon announced the impending closure of its Chinese marketplace in April, due to an inability to compete with Alibaba and JD.com, which together command 74.5 percent of Chinese e-commerce. Now, the company is turning its attention away from Chinese consumers and focusing on the business that the country is bringing to the U.S. market and the rest of the world.
The program launched with a single lending partner called Shanghai Fuyou Commercial Factoring, and the seller’s forum said that the company plans to add more lenders in the future.
Currently, the Lending Referral Program serves merchants in the U.S., U.K. and India in addition to China.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported a November 2018 filing by Amazon revealing that hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for U.K. business loans were stolen last year. Hackers broke into about 100 seller accounts, likely using phishing scams to trick sellers into handing over account details, and stole money intended for inventory and other startup costs.
The filing did not reveal the total amount stolen through the extensive fraud, but the company revealed in a small and medium business (SMB) report this week that it extended more than $1 billion in loans in 2018 alone to SMBs.