September 19, 2019

Amazon doubles down on a ‘new’ payment method for online purchases: Cash

Amazon is launching a program called PayCode, which will allow customers to buy online and pay later in cash, in the US.

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Amazon — the e-commerce giant better known for patenting a way for customers to pay online with a single, frictionless click — is now investing in a different checkout option in the US: cold hard cash.

It’s called Amazon PayCode…

And the program, which is already available in 19 countries outside the US, allows customers to pay for their online orders at any Western Union location. According to Amazon, 80% of Americans live within 5 miles of one of the 15k participating Western Unions.

The payment process works like this: When customers select the PayCode option when checking out, they receive a QR code. Then, they have 24 hours to fork over some greenbacks at the local W. Union.

What does Amazon even get out of this?

In some ways, cash is still king: Last year, cash was still the most frequent method of payment in the US, accounting for 31% of all transactions — more than online payments, credit cards, debit cards, or checks. 

So by offering a cash checkout option, Amazon hopes to squeeze some dollars from people who are biased toward cash — primarily older buyers, lower-income individuals, and people making purchases under $10.

This won’t be the first time that Amazon has (reluctantly) embraced hard currency: Amazon’s Go stores started accepting cash after debuting as cash-less, and the company also runs a program called Amazon Cash that enables customers to preload their benjamins into Amazon accounts.

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