Friday, 07 April 2017 08:01

Amazon Cash success 'depends on attracting more market share'

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Amazon Cash is targeted at an entirely different market from the other digital pay services offered by technology companies and what remained to be seen was whether it could attract any additional market share by streamlining this process, a senior official of an American payment processing company says.

Joe Kleinwaechter, vice-president of Innovation and Design at Worldpay US, told iTWire in response to queries following the launch of Amazon Cash this month, that to compare the service against Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay was "an apple to oranges comparison".

Amazon Cash is aimed squarely at those who want digital cash for transactions but have no means of topping up online.

Kleinwaechter said: "The xPay cadre is based on credit or ACH systems, which require the consumer to have a bank account or credit card. Amazon Cash appears to target unbanked and underbanked consumers to convert them to Amazon customers.

"They know they have a market, as these consumers are already buying Amazon gift cards with cash and taking them home to redeem them on their Amazon accounts.

"There really is no risk if the expectation is to replace that mechanism. But, what remains to be seen is whether they can attract any additional market share by streamlining this process."

Asked if Amazon was too late to the market and whether a half-and-half service was going to make the cut, Kleinwaechter responded: "Not at all. I think Amazon is going after a fixed job-to-be-done – provide purchasing power to cash only customers. Currently, 7% of consumers are unbanked and an additional 20% are underbanked. That’s a big opportunity, if you have the right solution."

Given that the US is now pushing for digital payments - as underlined by its being behind the moves in India to lessen cash transactions - Kleinwaechter was asked if it was in any way peculiar that Amazon was seemingly encouraging people to keep using cash.

He disagreed with this conclusion. "I don’t think Amazon’s encouraging the use of cash, it's simply responding to a market need. Consumers are unbanked and underbanked for a reason. They often don’t have access to or choose not to have access to traditional credit systems and are challenged by paying in ways banked customers do.

"Traditionally banks have ignored this population, as they weren’t candidates for the margin-rich service upsells that make customer acquisition costs worthwhile. Amazon Cash is a valuable service, but whether it will be a good source of profit or a loss leader for future offerings remains to be seen."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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