Amazon will offer instant pay for workers and more loans for sellers

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Yesterday, Amazon announced a $1 per hour median increase in starting pay for new hires. The average starting rate for “front line employees in customer processing and transportation” is now $19 per hour, with salaries ranging between $16 and $26 per hour, depending on the position and the location.

In the same press release, Amazon also revealed that it would begin offering its instant payment system, Anytime Pay, to all US employees in its operations, enterprise, and technology departments. The program allows workers to access up to 70% of their eligible earned wages whenever they want, without fees, interest or penalties. “Previously, most Amazon employees received their regular salary once or twice a month,” the company explains. Now, however, employees can access “their earned wages as often as they wish”. At 70 cents on that one dollar raise until their official paydays, that is.

[Related: Amazon’s new warehouse employee training exec used to manage private prisons.]

The company also revealed in a separate statement this morning that it is expanding further into the financial sector. Through a partnership with Lendistry, the company is rolling out Amazon Community Lending nationwide to “support small urban and rural businesses in socially and economically challenged communities with short-term loans at competitive and affordable rates” after having announced a pilot launch last year. “Since its launch, the program has lent more than $35 million to more than 800 sellers, surpassing the original goal of $10 million during the pilot,” the announcement reads. “Now the program plans to lend more than $150 million over the next three years to small businesses selling in Amazon’s U.S. store.”

[Related: Four workers die in Amazon warehouses across 22 days.]

The loans are said to be between $10,000 and $250,000 with repayment terms of up to five years, although interest rates were not immediately made available to the public, but a previous survey on l Amazon’s loan history shows variables ranging from 3 to 16.9%. If true, these rates aren’t exactly the best compared to industry averages of between 2.5 and 8%. The availability of “interest-only” loan options may set off financial red flags for some – as Investopedia explains, “these loans are best for sophisticated borrowers who fully understand how they work and what risks they take “.

The company joins rivals like Walmart, which offers similar services to its own employees as it braces for a host of consumer-side financial expansions.

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