Amazon quietly unveiled a new initiative today that will encourage more companies to use its payments platform for the check-out process.
The new offering is subtle, but will allow it to compete more directly with PayPal, which acquired Chicago-based payments gateway Braintree late last year for $800 million.
It’s a big business that Amazon has been meddling in for years, but has not been going after aggressively — a stance that apparently is changing today.
For years, the Seattle retailer has been offering its payments platform to third-parties, so that the end-customers could check-out using an Amazon account without having to type in their credit card numbers or fill in other forms. However, the service has not been widely adopted by retailers, often times because they view Amazon as a competitor.
Today’s announcement expands the payment platform to charge subscriptions fees that may occur monthly or annually, according to an Amazon spokeswoman. One customer example is Ting, which offers discounted mobile-phone services. Another is PeachDish.com, a meal-delivery service that is offering Amazon as the only way to check-out.
Amazon told Reuters that companies should not be wary of using the service for competitive reasons because Amazon does not see item-level information — only dollar amounts. Amazon is also attractive because it has a total active user base to 244 million, which means it has credit cards on file for that many people. In comparison, PayPal has 110 million.
While Amazon’s announcement is incremental, it does represent a potentially large business.
At the time of Braintree’s acquisition, it had over $12 billion in transactions and was tripling its business year-over-year with thousands of startups using its platform.
A third popular, and independently owned company in the space, is Stripe, which is backed by Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, and Elon Musk.
Amazon is also matching the fee structures of both Braintree and Stripe. All three companies are charging 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents per transaction. Braintree and Stripe already offer recurring billing.