Amazon Says No to Accepting Bitcoin, Maybe to Building an Amex or Visa Competitor
Like bitcoin? Like Amazon? Want to use bitcoin to buy stuff from Amazon?
I have some bad news for you. Not going to happen anytime soon.
“Obviously it gets a lot of press and we have considered it,” Amazon payments head Tom Taylor told Re/code in a recent interview, “but we’re not hearing from customers that it’s right for them and don’t have any plans within Amazon to engage bitcoin.”
Amazon isn’t alone in this stance among big e-commerce sites. EBay, Walmart.com, Target.com and other big names have shown no signs of moving toward acceptance. Probably the most well-known online seller to accept the digital currency is Overstock.com, which sells furniture online and has a comparatively modest market cap of $413 million.
Still, Taylor wouldn’t deny there are some advantages to a global currency, but said Amazon’s sellers have more urgent needs — such as dealing with foreign exchange rates, for example — that the company will focus on in other ways.
The talk of bitcoin also led us to a discussion about credit card companies and the limited data they see about each transaction and how that prevents them from helping merchants deeply understand their customers’ shopping behavior.
I mentioned to Taylor that many industry execs expect Amazon to eventually build its own full-blown payments network to compete against the big credit card companies. Will we see a day when the Amazon logo appears at a checkout counter alongside American Express, Visa and MasterCard?
“If we felt like we could do a better job than Amex and Visa, and feel like it helps the customer experience, that’s something we would do,” he said. “But it would really have to be something much better than [what they do].”
Industry sources familiar with Amazon’s business believe it’s a question of “when,” not “if,” but Taylor wouldn’t provide any further details on the company’s thinking.