Amazon Bringing Cash Payment Option to the U.S.
Since launching in the mid-90s, Amazon has grown from a novel online bookselling startup into one of the largest retailers in the world. However, while online shopping has become the preference for many who value convenience, one problem is that most e-commerce sites require customers to use a credit or debit card to pay for their goods. In response, Amazon is introducing a new program that will make it easier for cash customers to buy from the site.
Amazon Paycode will allow the site’s shoppers to make purchases in cash. To do this, they’ll select the Amazon Paycode option at checkout, which will then provide them a QR code. Then users will head to their local Western Union location within 24 hours to make their payment. Should the customer need to make a return, they will also be able to collect their cash refund from Western Union once the returned item is received. Importantly there are no additional fees associated with this program.
While Amazon Paycode will be rolling out in the United States in the coming weeks, the program is already offered in 19 countries around the world. The obvious hope is that this new option will give unbanked customers or those without credit cards the ability to shop on the site. Interestingly, according to Amazon, 80% of Americans live not more than five miles away from one of Western Union’s 15,000 participating locations.
In a press release announcing the Amazon Paycode rollout, the site’s director of payments Ben Volk said, “We’re constantly innovating to improve the shopping experience on behalf of our customers, and are proud to expand Amazon Paycode to customers in the U.S.” Addressing the need for such a service, Volk said, “Customers have told us they love the convenience of paying in cash. Together with Western Union, we’re able to offer customers more shopping choices, enabling them to pay for their online purchases in a way that is convenient for them.” Meanwhile Western Union’s president of consumer money transfers Khalid Fellahi echoed those sentiments, saying, “As one of the world’s largest digital and physical money movers, we’re innovating our service to give customers more access and choice. We’re embracing the complexity of a world where cash and digital payments are likely to coexist far into the future. We are providing easy solutions for customers who want access to the convenience of online shopping but prefer to pay in-person.”
Beyond Amazon Paycode, the online retailer is also expanding its Amazon Cash program. That offering allows shoppers to deposit funds in their Amazon account balance for future purchases. Amazon Cash is now available at more than 100,000 cash-loading locations, including select CVS, 7-Eleven, and Rite Aid stores in addition to Western Union.
Despite the perception that cash is on the way out, this move from Amazon is a good reminder that not all Americans carry plastic. Moreover even those that may have a credit or debit card might still prefer to use cash whenever possible. Therefore it’ll be interesting to see how the Amazon Paycode program performs and if the offering can help the retail giant grow even larger.