August 7, 2007, 12:00 AM

Amazon rolls out web services for payments processing

As a competitive alternative to Google Check Out and PayPal Express Checkout, Amazon.com is introducing a web service that will enable developers to more easily create and manage payments programs.

Amazon.com is introducing a new payments systems service that will enable web developers to more easily create and manage programs to store bank card information, set up recurring billing for customers and develop alternative payments.

Through Amazon Web Services, the world’s biggest online retailer is beta testing Amazon Flexible Payments Service, which uses application program interfaces, or APIs, to move money and transactions between diverse companies, accounts and customers, the retailer says.

With Amazon Flexible Payments Service, retailers that are already using other Amazon web services for storing data and managing e-commerce platforms can use the new application to set up scalable payments processing. “Amazon Flexible Payments Service is the first payments service designed from the ground up specifically for developers,” says Amazon. “Amazon FPS offers developers flexibility in how they can structure payment instructions, including standing instructions that can remain in place for multiple transactions.”

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, sees Amazon Flexible Payments Service as an alternative to Google Check Out from Google Inc. and PayPal Express Checkout from PayPal, according to payments systems analysts. “This new service may be low on the radar now, but in two or three years I see Amazon going head to head with PayPal and becoming just as diverse in offering payments services,” says Steve Mott, principal, BetterBuyDesign, a Stamford, CT, payments system consulting firm. “Amazon does a very good job with payments and risk management on a large scale.”

With Amazon Flexible Payments Service, retailers can use web services to set up systems that enable customers to log-in and change their bank card information. Using APIs as a core technology, retailers can also more easily set up and manage different fee structures for credits cards, direct debits and balance transfers and simplify payment instructions. “Developers are free to set up an unlimited number of payment instructions,” Amazon says.

The market for Amazon Flexible Payments Service are retailers who want to develop more web services and for merchants looking for a better way to process micro and alternative payments, the retailer says.

Early beta users of Amazon Flexible Payments Service include FreshBooks.com, an online billing service, and Buxfer.com, an online personal finance community. Fees for Amazon Flexible Payments Service are priced on a per-transaction basis. Fees for merchants with annual credit card volume from $3 million to $10 million per year would pay 2.5% of the purchase and 30 cents per transaction. Retailers with more than $100 million in bank card volume would pay 1.9% of the purchase and 30 cents per transaction.

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