Amazon is working on accepting Bitcoin payments and could even create its own token, according to a new leak, though it’s unclear just how eager the world’s biggest retailer is to wade into the volatile world of crypto. Though it may have cornered the market in online sales, Amazon’s taste for currency currently skews old-school.
Indeed, it would prefer you spend your cash in either your local fiat currency or Amazon gift cards. Other retailers have experimented with accepting cryptocurrency, with mixed results.
Now, though, Amazon is said to be weighing a change. The retailer is reportedly looking at how it could accept Bitcoin as a payments option before the end of the year, an unnamed insider tells UK business paper City A.M. The report follows a freshly-spotted job listing for an expert in cryptocurrency and blockchain to join the Amazon team.
Amazon’s plans, though, go beyond just understanding and one day accepting existing crypto like Bitcoin. “This isn’t just going through the motions to set up cryptocurrency payment solutions at some point in the future,” the insider claims, “this is a full-on, well-discussed, integral part of the future mechanism of how Amazon will work.”
Jeff Bezos himself – the Amazon founder who stepped down as CEO earlier this month, shortly before blasting into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket – is said to have driven the embrace of digital currencies. The project is tipped to have been in the works since 2019, and Bitcoin is said to only be the first stage. “Ethereum, Cardano and Bitcoin Cash will be next in line before they bring about eight of the most popular cryptocurrencies online,” the source says.
It’s not the first time that we’ve heard loud rumors about just how cryptocurrency will upend retail. Typically, it comes with a surge in Bitcoin pricing, and sure enough that’s what has happened today. The price of a single Bitcoin is up over 6.7-percent in the course of the last 13 hours, and will cost you around $38,310 at time of publication. It follows a short slump for the coin.
Beyond the plans to accept existing cryptocurrencies, however, Amazon is said to have its own token in mind. That would allow it more control over the payment system, with shoppers both using it to spend on goods and streaming services, and earning it through their own sales or as a loyalty scheme.
Simplifying online transactions has long been a primary goal for crypto, though the volatility of the coins themselves can make that a challenge. When Tesla decided to begin accepting Bitcoin for its electric vehicles in May of this year, fluctuations in the token’s value meant buyers could see potentially thousands of dollars difference in how much their car cost from day to day. Come May, meanwhile, Tesla stopped accepting Bitcoin, with Elon Musk citing ecological concerns about the energy required to mine the currency.
With only a single report – and an unnamed insider – to go on, it’s worth taking all this with a pinch of skeptical salt. After all, as a tech company, Amazon is undoubtedly looking at crypto and tokens, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s planning to launch a “PrimeCoin” of its own.
Update: According to CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, Amazon says that “speculation that has ensued around its specific plans for cryptocurrencies is not true.”