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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Amazon Launches Subscription-Based Billing And Payments Service 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-pay dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes in with news about Amazon's new payments service. "The company launched a service Monday known as Amazon Payments that allows consumers to use their Amazon accounts to send and receive money and shop online at 'thousands of sites other than Amazon.' It's accessible on both desktops and mobile devices. For businesses, Amazon is selling the service as a way to take advantage of its security and user data while saving time for new customers. There's no recurring fee for retailers to use the platform, though Amazon plans to take a standard cut of 2.9% from those businesses, plus $0.30 for each transaction of $10 or more. With more than 244 million active customer accounts, Amazon already has a massive base of potential users for the service. The effort represents a new front in its assault on eBay, which owns online payments service PayPal."
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Amazon Launches Subscription-Based Billing And Payments Service

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  • OLD news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by santajon (22325) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:04PM (#47197013) Homepage

    Amazon payments launched in 2007. I've had an account with the service for at least 5 years.

    • Indeed. I just renewed my Schedules Direct account for my MythTV system using Amazon Payments.
    • by OhPlz (168413)

      Same here. I've paid for things from non-Amazon sites using Amazon as a payment type for years. Just like Paypal, it saves reentering shipping, billing and payment details. Also keeps the credit card number out of the end merchant's hands.

    • Re:OLD news (Score:4, Informative)

      by Aighearach (97333) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:23PM (#47197201) Homepage

      For sure. The news is actually just they added recurring payments.

      I tend towards using "epay USA" for my clients because they're the only one that offers the complete package; card present, card not present, mail order, recurring, etc.

      Since there is only one API so far that supports everything, it is common to have to spend a bunch of money switching payment providers, just to add features to a product, or worse, some of my point-of-sale customers have to have different payment processors for online and in-person sales.

      So I agree the feature is an important addition. But not important to most people, and not a new "service."

    • by lunatick (32698)

      Came to say this, Already done, but felt the need to say something.

      So yeah old news

    • by NoKaOi (1415755)

      According to the article, the new part is recurring payments...it's just one new feature of the already-existing Amazon Payments. What a horrible summary. I get users not reading the article. I even get submitters only reading the first part of an article. But for this one, it seems like he would have had to put some real effort into it making it so wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It seems to me that 3% overhead imposed on most of the retail economy is hugely inefficient. Why aren't payment vendors undercutting each-other on these fees?

    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      Because that's standard credit card fees. There's really no room to cut fees without paying out.

    • MasterCartel (Score:2, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)
      Because Visa and MasterCard have what amounts to a cozy duopoly on setting the swipe fees
    • by goombah99 (560566)

      Once enough people switch to Amazon it will start squeezing merchants and consumers to pay more. See Hatchette

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Then people will switch away.
        d'uh. Just like there are many place to buy Hatchette books.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:26PM (#47197241)

      There's two reasons

      first Visa and MC both require merchants not to charge extra fro using their card. Thus there's no reason for consumers not to use the most widely accepted cards.

      second, even though Visa is a franchise of issuers, the master company avoids putting them in competition.

      Thus there's just no easy way for competition to breakout since merchants don't want to just restrict their sales to AMEX holders anymore.

      It's also likely it's an illegal price fixed cartel but I don't have any evidence for that.

      • It is common for merchants to give discounts for cash however.

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday June 09, 2014 @04:55PM (#47198083)

        first Visa and MC both require merchants not to charge extra fro using their card. Thus there's no reason for consumers not to use the most widely accepted cards.

        Nope. Not anymore. [nytimes.com]

        Briefly (if you don't want to read the link), as a result of a major 2012 settlement with Visa and Mastercard, merchants ARE now allowed to charge fees for credit cards. (There are still restrictions on how exactly this is done; a good summary is here [cardfellow.com].)

        Some states have restricted this practice significantly, most commonly requiring that POSTED prices for goods be the higher price, and thus only allowing a "cash discount" rather than an extra "fee" for using credit cards.

        I've bought items at two places just in the past couple days that have dual pricing: a gas station and a liquor store. In one case, the advantage of cash pricing far outweighs any credit card bonus point advantage I could get.

    • by alen (225700)

      one time a long time ago wal mart tried to buy a bank to handle their own CC transactions and it was killed by the powers that be because they dared lower the cost to their customers

    • by Livius (318358)

      It seems to me that 3% overhead imposed on most of the retail economy is hugely inefficient. Why aren't payment vendors undercutting each-other on these fees?

      Because oligarchies like inefficiencies.

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        If you see a system that is paying you to be a customer, you are getting ripped off, even if it's hidden. You aren't getting ripped off as much as the people who don't get CC rewards.
  • It'll be nice to have another viable competitor to PayPal.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Google wallet has been around for a while now.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:10PM (#47197065) Homepage

      It exists. It's called a credit card, underwritten by a real bank, which will adhere to actual banking laws instead of "whatever we decide we want to do", and actually have some stake in fraud prevention.

      • a real bank, which will adhere to actual banking laws instead of "whatever we decide we want to do", and actually have some stake in fraud prevention.

        Snicker. Snicker. Oh, stop. Stop! Oh, hahahahahaha!

        • by geekoid (135745)

          What are you laughing at? as a consumer, you have far more protection then with Paypal et al.

      • It exists. It's called a credit card

        Ah, yes, a credit card, which I'll give to yet another vendor, which will then be responsible for securing my account data. That's certainly one idea, but I prefer to make my financial data readily available to as few vendors as possible. I much prefer to allow a trusted third party to take responsibility for assuring that my account data is protected— fewer potential points of risk, not more.

        • Oh, and I pay PayPal and Amazon with my credit card, which makes that even less of a moot point anyway.
        • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:25PM (#47197233) Homepage

          I much prefer to allow a trusted third party

          If you consider PayPal a trusted third party ... well, good luck with that. I sincerely hope it works out well for you.

          Me, I consider PayPal to be about as trustworthy as your average meth head, and wouldn't let them near my money on the best of days.

          • by Richy_T (111409)

            Yeah, but at least Paypal is a meth-head who is well known to you and, for many of us, not actually ever done us any harm. Using your credit card directly is like dealing with a different meth-head every day.

            Still, Bitcoin is coming so chin-up.

            • by praxis (19962)

              Yeah, but at least Paypal is a meth-head who is well known to you and, for many of us, not actually ever done us any harm.

              They have not harmed me, that is true because I refuse to use them. They have lost my trust by showing that they have no interest in honoring a payment. For example, when they withheld donations to charities several times, admitted being wrong, apologized, returned the money, but kept the fees they charged. Just the fact that their policies give me no legal recourse against their whims (and they've shown they are whimsical many times) means I will not do business with them until they allow legal recourse or

              • by Richy_T (111409)

                I sympathize with that somewhat and have some misgivings about them myself but for me, they haven't actually crossed the line yet. I'd be most happy for someone else to come along and kick their arse, however.

                • by praxis (19962)

                  I sympathize with that somewhat and have some misgivings about them myself but for me, they haven't actually crossed the line yet. I'd be most happy for someone else to come along and kick their arse, however.

                  We draw the line in very different places. I do not place trust in an organization that has already in my eyes violated the trust of their other users several times and even when admitting it was in err not addressing the issue completely (refunding donations to a charity but keeping all the fees it earned on those donations, for example).

        • by geekoid (135745)

          as long as there is fraud protection what do you care?

      • It exists. It's called a credit card, underwritten by a real bank, which will adhere to actual banking laws instead of "whatever we decide we want to do" (emphasis mine)

        PayPal has been a very bad player in this area, apparently closing accounts on a whim, locking up the monies in those accounts, etc., etc., etc.

        .
        For that reason, I've never given PayPal direct access to my bank accounts, in spite of PayPal's constant hounding to do so.

        PayPal just has not been behaving well in this space. For me, PayPal is a payment service of last resort, not of first choice.

      • by Tom (822)

        If you're a small shop, you will not be able to deal with credit cards except through intermediate handlers, such as PayPal. And most of them have massive up-front fees that you cannot afford.

        For smaller sites that don't have revenue in the thousands, PayPal and Google Wallet are the main options, like it or not.

        • If you're a small shop, you will not be able to deal with credit cards except through intermediate handlers, such as PayPal. And most of them have massive up-front fees that you cannot afford.

          Well, technically, I suppose that statement may still be true, but there is at least one very prominent "intermediate handler" that does not charge any up-front fees; in fact, they give away the hardware for free: I'm talking about Square [squareup.com].

          They are, however, mainly helpful offline, because I believe their fees for non-in-person transactions are considerably higher than the 2.7% or whatever they charge when you actually swipe a card. Though they do have an online marketplace.

          Either way, it's definitely good t

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        and actually have some stake in fraud prevention.

        What makes you think that banks or credit cards have any stake in fraud protection?
        Everything they do is insured or charged back to the vendor.

        As long as the issuing credit card company stays under some maximum % of fraud, they won't get bounced from the Mastercard/Visa/Amex/Discover transaction network.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        But I have started running into places that ONLY take paypal.
        I inform the seller why I"m not buying and go elsewhere, but if it keeps happening we may end up stuck.

        • by Jumunquo (2988827)

          I don't see why you wouldn't use paypal - you're just using them as the credit card processor. Your credit card company will cover any fraud anyway (use one with 0% liability). What sucks about Paypal is the high fees the seller gets hit with and trigger-happy merchant account freezing. As a buyer, it shouldn't matter to you, and you should always have $0 in your account.

      • by Camael (1048726)

        It exists. It's called a credit card, underwritten by a real bank, which will adhere to actual banking laws instead of "whatever we decide we want to do", and actually have some stake in fraud prevention.

        I am sure banks are all law abiding entities [wikipedia.org] who respect the letter and spirit of the law and do not try to subvert existing rules to pass on costs to their customers [bankrate.com].

        I'll give you that banks want to prevent fraud though.

  • Paypal is basically a monopoly in online payment systems. A few competitors could do the people good. I didn't expect Amazon to poke into it. I always thought a company with virtual goods like Facebook.com or Blizzard would go,"Hey, we'll let sites outside us deal in our virtual goods."
    • Google and Amazon (despite what the summary incorrectly states) have had online payment systems for years. Those are just the 500 lb gorillas, there's literally dozens of other providers, none of which have managed to gain much traction.

      Personally I avoid paypal like the plague, too many horror stories. But then, I've never had reason to argue with Google Wallet or Amazon Payments, so maybe resolving conflicts would be just as much hassle with than as with paypal, I couldn't even say.

    • I reckoned Western Union, or maybe FedEx.

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:20PM (#47197167) Journal

    >2.9% + $0.3

    Nothing to see here. Until someone starts offering a flat fee for payment processing somewhere close to cost of the transaction, which is microscopic, this is offering nothing that can't be done with existing credit card processing options.

    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      Nobody will offer a flat fee because credit card networks dont offer a flat fee. They're not going to pay out to Visa/Novus/etc just so shoppers can have cheaper payments.

      • The point is that the credit card networks are the base cost here. Bypass those networks and the actual transaction cost is much lower. If you offer a payment service tied to credit card networks, then there's nothing new. Call me when a customer in my store can wave a card, a phone or some other credential, make a payment and the transaction cost is flat and reasonable.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Bitcoin processors are basically offering virtually free transactions.
    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Until someone starts offering a flat fee for payment processing somewhere close to cost of the transaction, which is microscopic

      So you'd want a company to float you the money during the transaction for up to thousands of dollars, cover all the real costs of the transactions, and handle any fraud prevention and losses all by charging a few pennies? That sounds like a sweet investment deal to be had!

      • by Cigarra (652458)

        Until someone starts offering a flat fee for payment processing somewhere close to cost of the transaction, which is microscopic

        So you'd want a company to float you the money during the transaction for up to thousands of dollars, cover all the real costs of the transactions, and handle any fraud prevention and losses all by charging a few pennies? That sounds like a sweet investment deal to be had!

        You mean like Dwolla [dwolla.com]?

        • by rjstanford (69735)

          Dwolla doesn't have federally mandated protection with which someone claiming to be a dissatisfied customer can get all of their money back. Also, the nice thing about the existing network is that I can make payments from people without Dwolla accounts. People on both ends are also not well protected from fraud.

          Currently, a customer gets a credit card, debit card, or bank account. Their financial institution issues products that work with standard interchange protocols. Next, merchants choose to get a m

          • by stiggle (649614)

            Dwolla also requires US ID, Social Security, Bank account, etc. Not much good for international transactions.

      • The 'real costs' of any single transaction are no more that a few pennies. More importantly, the cost of servicing the transaction does not increase with the size of the transaction. So taking a percentage is wrong.

        2.9% of a $1000 transaction is theft.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Cost of transaction is negligible (fractions of a cent). Cost of fraud is likely in the .5% range. Unfortunately the credit card industry locked themselves into giving good customers a kickback (rewards credit cards), so until merchants refuse to take credit cards and only take cheaper alternatives (a few places do now), customers will never have an incentive to switch. Retailers just pad there margins by 3% to cover the cost rather then make there customers use another method of payment.

  • If small sellers have an alternative to the abysmal conflict resolution Paypal offers, this can only be a good thing. Amazon does Customer Service well... I think they can certainly improve upon Paypal in that respect. Competition may drive Paypal to improve.
  • Clarification: Amazon's payment system is not new; Monday's launch relates specifically to payments of recurring charges.

  • by future assassin (639396) on Monday June 09, 2014 @03:55PM (#47197443) Homepage

    option. Pay Pal is it then once again.

  • I log in to my Amazon Payments account and I still don't see any recurring nor scheduled payments options. Is this on a rolling deployment where some users get it before others?
  • Which one is cheaper? Which one has better dispute resolution procedures?

  • Serious question. Seemingly none of the big players in the whatever-this-service-is-called industry seem to want anything to do with porn. I would LOVE to use a reputable mainstream payment services provider to buy porn but they're all so sexually repressed that they just shut down any accounts dealing with anything sexual.

  • I've developed payment interfaces for PayPal, Google Checkout (may it RIP), and Amazon Payments.

    Amazon Payments is by far the most sloppy interface I've used. Embarrassingly bad.

    1. There's no way to search transactions on their web interface by email, only transaction id.
    2. You can't use the "monthly statement" to reconcile because the "beginning balance" is at the *END* of day 1, not the beginning! (opening balance doesn't match previous monthly closing balance)
    3. The math in a transaction report never

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