Amazon today announced a new way for its users to add funds to their Amazon accounts, called Amazon Cash. By visiting a participating retailer, Amazon users will be able to show a barcode to a cashier, choose an amount between $15 and $500, and pay the amount in cash to see it transferred digitally and able to be spent on Amazon.com.
As TechCrunch reported, Amazon Cash is aimed at "cash customers" who don't shop online as consistently as everyone else, including people who are paid in cash, who don’t have a bank account or debit card, and who don’t use credit cards. The entire process doesn't require any sort of fee to be paid by the user.
This "cash customer" (the unbanked or "underbanked") accounts for around 27 percent of consumers, said a 2015 report from the FDIC.
While they may have money to spend online at times, there isn’t an easy way to do so. Until today, they would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card in a designated amount or add cash to prepaid payment cards, to be used at checkout.
More broadly, the service could appeal to anyone who just wants to deposit some cash in their Amazon.com account, without hassle.
These customers will be able to use the Amazon iOS and Android app to bring up their unique Amazon Cash barcode, which will be reused any time they want to add more money to their account. After telling the cashier how much they want added and scanning the barcode, the customer pays at the register with cash and the amount instantly appears in their Amazon account. Confirmation of the money's arrival will be sent to users via email, text, or push notification.
Amazon Cash will even let users print out their unique barcode at home and bring it into the store in lieu of using a smartphone. Those who have a smartphone with a cracked screen are also recommended to print out the barcode instead of using their phone.
Participating U.S. stores at launch include: CVS Pharmacy, Speedway, Kum & Go, D&W Fresh Market, Sheetz, Family Fare Supermarkets, and VG’s Grocery, with more coming soon. The service is launching now across the U.S.