New Gift, Loyalty App Latest Sign of Amazon’s Offline Ambitions (July 22, 2014)
Amazon has launched a new mobile wallet app for managing and redeeming gift and loyalty cards. While far from a full-fledged mobile wallet, the service could be a sign that the online retail giant is seeking to throw its weight around in the brick-and-mortar arena. Known as Amazon Wallet, a beta version of the app was released quietly on the Amazon Appstore and Google Play last week and will come pre-loaded on Amazon’s upcoming Fire smartphone. Once the app is downloaded, users can scan or manually enter gift and loyalty cards for dozens of merchants into the wallet. Cards then can be redeemed at POS via barcode, QR code, text or image. Cards also can be added via the Amazon Wallet Website. Google Wallet earlier this week unveiled a gift card management function of its own.
While in-store payments remain outside of Amazon’s domain, many observers believe the company has ambitions to blur the line between online and offline commerce. Its new Fire smartphone will enable users to scan physical products into online shopping carts, and Amazon is believed to be working on an “ambitious” new project centered on the company’s late 2013 acquisition of GoPago Inc., a startup that enables users to prepay for goods online and pick them up at stores.
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