Netflix's explanation for poor growth is just smoke and mirrors, according to credit card experts

Reed hastings gettyGetty Images LatamNetflix CEO Reed Hastings

On Wednesday, Netflix blamed its poor subscriber growthon an unlikely source: the new chip-based credit cards rolling out in the US.

But now some credit card experts are saying that explanation is a bit too convenient, according to Bloomberg.

“Netflix is using [the new cards] as a whipping boy for their customer attrition,” Julie Conroy, a payments analyst at Aite Group, told Bloomberg.

Netflix told Business Insider that those new credit cards often have a new number or expiration date, requiring subscribers to update their payment information online in order for their subscription to continue. And some customers accidentally let their subscriptions lapse.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings characterised this as “involuntary churn.” But Conroy doesn’t buy it.

“I don’t think a significant customer churn could be blamed on the chip migration,” she said to Bloomberg.

David Robertson, the head of card research at Nilson Report, agrees. “It seems like they are grasping for a bogeyman here,” he told Bloomberg. He went on to say that most credit card companies would not change account details, like card numbers, when switching over to the new technology. This runs in direct contrast to Netflix’s explanation.

Netflix said the new credit-card rollout was only a third of the way completed, though it wouldn’t affect Netflix for much longer. “We’ll be through it in a couple months,” Hastings assured shareholders. “Next year, everyone will have chip-based cards.”

But if these analysts are correct, the end of the rollout won’t boost US subscriber numbers.

Netflix gained 880,000 US subscribers during the third quarter, lower than expected by analysts. Wall Street expected domestic subscriber growth to be around 1.25 million.

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