Near the end of May, Amazon was awarded a patent that would allow them to accept alternate payment methods for their services.
One of the possible means of payment is Bitcoin, even though Amazon stated in the not so distant past that they don’t really have an interest in this currency. Basically, the patent would allow the user of their services to make payments without necessarily divulging their identity, and without going through the usual steps.
Amazon filed for the patent in March 2012, and has since negated the possibility of incorporating Bitcoin into their business model, so it remains questionable if they only wanted to ensure intellectual property rights, or if they have a plan to actually make use of the crypto currency. There are good arguments in support of either of the theories.
Concerns over Suitability
One of the things that might cause them to be quite hesitant to expand their business model in this way is the fact that Bitcion is not exactly the most reliable currency out there. Apart from the drastic and frequent fluctuations, and the fact that its user base is not exactly large enough to be too appealing to a company with the size and scope of Amazon, there is the issue of the currency’s security, as intrusions and thefts are not exactly a rarity.
Additionally, while they don’t seem to have great plans for expanding it, Amazon does have its currency, Coin, which they are accepting as payment for Kindle Fire app purchases.
On the other hand, the patent does allow for interesting and convenient payment options. Computing resources and services could be purchased with Bitcoin (or one of the other means of digital payment allowed by the patent) without the need to leave too much information, or go through too many steps.
Apart from convenient, instant purchases, that would probably appeal more to individual consumers in urgent need of some of the services that Amazon provides than they would to businesses; this payment model has another interesting aspect. Computing services could be purchased by one party and then resold to end users. The price of the services might be modified by the current demand and other factors, so it wouldn’t be as constant as we are used to, as the services would, in a way, be auctioned off.
Following the Pack
Amazon wouldn’t be the first company to try and offer their users a faster method of paying for their services, and neither would they be the first giant company to align itself Bitcoin. ebay, Paypal and after some back and forth, Apple, all decided to incorporate the currency into their operations, as has the huge satellite company, Dish Network.
Amazon’s patent might only mean that they are sensing a shift in the way that digital purchases seem to be going, and that they want to have their bases covered if the model proves to be successful, but they may have more immediate and formulated plans for the patent.
While the chances of Amazon taking such a huge risk with an unstable currency are not exactly astronomical, it would be interesting to see how they would incorporate Bitcoin into their payment model and how this could prompt other companies to do the same.