Amazon to offer discounted Prime membership to low-income customers

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Amazon is offering a sizeable discount on its Prime membership for people who receive government assistance. But those who can not afford to pay up front have to pay $10.99 a month for the same benefits.

Instead of the usual prices of $10.99 per month or $99 per year, anyone with a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card will only have to pay $5.99 a month for Amazon Prime.

The move is widely seen as a way for Amazon to sharpen competition with rival Walmart, which now has a significant chunk of its customers on government aid programmes.

Amazon said Tuesday that it wants to make the program more accessible. Just a year ago, Walmart acquired Jet.com, an online shopping website with oftentimes tantalizing prices that was founded by former Amazon employee Marc Lore.

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The EBT card gives poorer families access to the U.S. government food stamp programme and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families service.

EBT cards can not be used to pay for the membership, according to Amazon. EBT can not be used to pay for membership.

The offer is almost 30 percent off a regular yearly Prime membership.

However, by cutting the price for those who need it, Amazon is not only undercutting competitors such Netflix, which offers basic services for $7.99 a month, but is also potentially signing up a new customer pool which will generate additional revenue for the company far into the future.

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