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7/30/2008
04:48 PM
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Amazon Offers Online Payment Service For E-Commerce Sites

Checkout By Amazon and Amazon Simple Pay will compete with PayPal and Google Checkout for a piece of the online payments pie.

Amazon's cloud computing infrastructure now includes a turnkey e-commerce payment system.

The online retail site on Tuesday announced the availability of Checkout By Amazon and Amazon Simple Pay. The two services are designed to help Web sites sell items online with the same low-friction experience offered by Amazon on its own site.

Checkout By Amazon lets Web site visitors sign in to Web sites using an Amazon Account login and buy items using the familiar Amazon One-Click button. The service encompasses payment, promotion, shipping and sales tax calculation, and order management.

Amazon Simple Pay is designed for merchants who don't need sophisticated checkout and order management capabilities, but who still want to incorporate Amazon's customer login system to sell items and collect donations.

Amazon also offers the Amazon Flexible Payment Service, a developer-oriented money-transfer application programming interface that Amazon opened to public testing in August 2007, and Amazon Dev Pay, a billing and account management service designed to make it easy to pay developers for work done on Amazon Web Services applications.

Checkout By Amazon competes with eBay's PayPal and Google Checkout. For transactions of $10 or more, the Amazon service costs 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction; transactions less than $10 cost 5% plus 5 cents per transaction.

Google Checkout costs 2% plus 20 cents per transaction. And for Google Checkout customers who also use AdWords, every $1 spent on AdWords exempts from fees $10 in processed sales during the following month.

PayPal charges on a sliding scale, starting at 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for monthly sales up to $3,000. Merchants generating more than $100,000 in monthly sales are charged 1.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

One difficulty Amazon may face is turning competing online retailers into payment services customers. Then again, given the extent to which Google has become a competitor with its publishing partners through services like Knol, it may be that online companies have resigned themselves to dealing with "frienemies," as some have taken to calling entities that are both friend and foe.

In a related move, Amazon on Wednesday announced the availability of a new set of Web-based tools designed to make its Mechanical Turk service more accessible to nonprogrammers.

Part of Amazon Web Services, Mechanical Turk allows businesses and individuals to post paid online tasks for their ad hoc workforce. Examples of such human intelligence tasks include tagging images, refining search results, collecting or extracting data, and classification of sites, images, and products.

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