Amazon have launched a new service that allows customers to upload physical money to their online accounts by presenting a barcode at participating retailers.
The service will accommodate deposits of between $15 and $500 dollars and will launch at brick and mortar retailers across the US, including Family fare supermarkets, VC’s Grocery, CVS Pharmacy amongst others.
Amazon believes that the service will attract new customers to its site – those who are paid in cash, who aren’t accustomed to shopping online, or who don’t own credit or cash cards. The “cash customer”, according to a report from the FDIC, cited by Tech Crunch, accounts for around 27% of all consumers.
Amazon won’t charge any fees to consumers who want to use the service, which can be accessed either by presenting a barcode via a smartphone, or a printed paper version, before paying the cash over.
In effect, there is no difference between adding cash to an Amazon account, or buying a gift card, albeit Amazon cash sounds like a more convenient way of uploading cash straight to an existing Amazon account.
The barcodes issues will be used for all transactions irrespective of location, and transactions histories can be accessed by visiting the gift card section of an account and checking the Amazon wallet section.
All transactions are non-refundable.
Do consumers still prefer cash to paying online?
Another possible benefit of the service is to counteract fraud on credit or debit cards; according to Forbes contributor Tom Popomaronis, 59% of American consumers reported that they were “extremely or very concerned” about having their card details pinched in 2015.
Sounds like Amazon are banking on the fact that shoppers trust the platform more than they trust their bank’s online accounts systems, which throws up all kinds of interesting questions about where the modern consumer will choose to keep their hard-earned cash. Will Amazon start to offer interest on deposits, or allow consumers to open savings accounts?
According to Future Pay, cited by Forbes, the move to accepting physical cash may lead to a decrease in shopping cart abandonment, whilst increasing brand loyalty at the same time.
Only time will tell if the move caters for anybody other than niche consumers, the “unbanked” who presumably do not have much to spend online.
Still, it’s becoming rarer and rarer to see Amazon make a false move these days.
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