Amazon has 244 million active customers, who trust the e-commerce behemoth to keep their credit cards on file, and yet, the Seattle-based company has done very little to exploit that position.
At least, not until now.
Last week, Amazon quietly rolled out a mobile application called the Amazon Wallet that will allow customers to scan and save gift and loyalty cards on their Android phone. The app is available for download on both Google Play and the Amazon AppStore. It will also be pre-installed on the Fire Phone, which launches Friday. It is not available on Apple’s App Store.
At launch, the application is fairly limited, and clearly marked as “beta,” but if the test goes well, Amazon will certainly add additional payment options, a very crowded market that today is largely dominated by the eBay-owned PayPal.
TechCrunch was the first to report the existence of the application, noticing that in addition to the mobile application, it also has an Amazon Wallet website to help you manage your account. The website is where customers can also add other payment methods, like credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts, however, all of those payment forms are currently limited to shopping on Amazon.
Amazon’s interest in payments has been known for some time.
In April, industry sources told Re/code that Jeff Bezos had identified payments as one of the top areas of focus and investment for Amazon, a position that Amazon verified. In an interview, Amazon payments boss Tom Taylor told Re/code: “The pressure I feel from Jeff is, ‘Go faster,’” he added.
And in January, the WSJ reported that Amazon had plans to offer brick-and-mortar retailers a checkout system that uses its Kindle tablets. To accelerate that program, it had acquired technology and hired some engineers from GoPago, a San Francisco startup that had begun developing check-out systems using smartphone apps.
To use the app, customers must scan or type their gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards into your Amazon Wallet. The information is then displayed as a barcode, QR code, text or image, which is what is shown to the merchant. Currently, Amazon supports a few dozen merchants, including Guitar Center, Panda Express, Sur La Table, Applebee’s and The Cheesecake Factory.