Amazon Takes a Swipe at PayPal

Amazon on Monday launched its Payments Partner Program — a global effort widely seen as a rival to PayPal — in the United States, the UK, Germany and Japan.

Currently available by invitation only, the program provides for three levels of partners: premier partners, certified partners and certified developers. The first two are for e-commerce platform providers, and the third is for developers and agencies.

A separate agreement is required for all three types of partnerships. Participation is free.

Shopify, Future Shop and PrestaShop are among the companies that have signed up for the program. Other integrations include AmericanEagle.com, Chargebee, Magento, Rand Marketing, UltraCart, Volusion, WooCommerce and Zoey.

Spreading Benefits All Around

“One of the draws of the program for merchants is that so many shoppers already have payment information registered with Amazon,” noted Tom Caporaso, CEO ofClarus Commerce. “Adding an Amazon payment button should offer millions of consumers a quick, seamless transaction process.”

The program will be particularly valuable to small and midsize merchants that don’t have much brand recognition, he told the E-Commerce Times.

They’ll get “a reflected glow of trust” as well as, possibly, joint marketing opportunities, an easy checkout process, and “Amazon’s behind-the-screen expertise and constant improvement process will help ensure that the system flows smoothly,” Caporaso said.

Customers will benefit from the ease and convenience of the checkout process and will “likely feel a bit more confident with making purchases at Amazon-certified merchants,” he suggested, as Amazon “is one of, if not the, most trusted retailers in the U.S.”

Payment volume from Pay with Amazon grew more than 150 percent year over year in 2015, Amazon said in its Q4 2015 financial report.

Partner Perks

Partners at all three levels will get integration support and certification review. They also will be allowed to use the logo Amazon provides to designate their status in the partner program on their websites. The logo can be used in promotions and on third-party websites with Amazon’s approval.

Premier partners will get instructor-led tech training on the features and functioning of Amazon products at the company’s discretion; certified partners and certified developers will get only written and video materials.

Premier partners will be given early access to any new features adopted; the others will get access as available. Premier partners also will be given preferred placement on Amazon’s Partner webpage.

Too Much Information?

“Obviously, Amazon’s going after PayPal,” observed Andreas Scherer, managing partner at Salto Partners. “By providing convenience and, perhaps, aggressive terms on its payment service, [it] would be well positioned to grow.”

However, retailers “have to think long and hard before they reveal their client data to another retailer, let alone the world’s largest retail e-commerce site,” told the E-Commerce Times. “Via this service, Amazon learns what people buy, who they are, and what they paid for a particular item.” Information of that type is “very valuable to have in a hypercompetitive industry.”

Retailers who go with PayPal “won’t have to fear any conflict of interest now and in the foreseeable future,” Scherer said. “That’s the biggest hurdle for Amazon to clear.”

Amazon’s huge subscriber base “is one of the biggest selling points of the program for merchants,” Clarus Commerce’s Caporaso noted. “If Amazon certifies a merchant, shoppers will be more likely to make payments with Payments Partner Program participants than they might be with nonparticipating stores.”

That gives Amazon’s program a running start, he pointed out. “If you’re an Amazon customer and you can see an Amazon payment button at every retailer you visit, you’re less likely to want or need to sign up with PayPal.”

The Everything Business

Payment processing “is a huge potential growth area,” Caporaso said. Amazon “is trying to become the everything business, and this will go a long way toward helping it reach that goal if it does it right.”

Amazon already serves more than 200,000 businesses, the company’s Q4 financial report stated, ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to SMBs with Amazon Business.

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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