Amazon will be offering discounts on its Prime subscription service to Americans getting financial assistance from the government.
Customers who receive benefits such as the SNAP, or food stamps, can now pay $5.99 per month instead of the current fee of $10.99 per month. The discounted membership will include the same benefits as the regular membership; free shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video.
The move is widely seen as a way for Amazon to sharpen competition with rival Walmart, which currently has a significant chunk of its customers on government aid.
About 20% of Walmart’s customers are believed to pay for groceries with food stamps. Walmart also has the second-largest share of online sales in the US, after Amazon.
To qualify for the discounted rate, customers will need to present a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer card. The EBT card gives poorer families access to the US government food stamp program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families service. But customers would not be able to pay for the service with the funds loaded on their EBT card, said Amazon.
News site CBS said the decision marked a change for Amazon, which had previously marketed the Prime service at households with high incomes. The fastest growing group of customers for Prime were homes earning more than $112,000 a year, it said.