Seattle — Amazon.com has launched a controversial mobile payment program that will allow brick-and-mortar retailers to accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet.
But CE merchants have already raised deep concerns over the confidential customer and pricing data that Amazon could glean from dealers through the service.
The program, called Amazon Local Register, features a free mobile app, available at the Amazon, Apple and Google app stores, and a secure card reader that can be purchased starting today for $10 through Amazon with free two-day shipping. It will also be available at Staples stores nationwide beginning Aug. 19.
Amazon said it will subsidize the cost of the card reader by crediting the first $10 in transaction fees back to retailers’ accounts.
The platform accepts all major credit and debit cards and is compatible with a variety of smartphones and tablets, including Apple devices running iOS7, select Android smartphones and Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon’s new Fire phone is not immediately compatible with the program but will join its ranks soon, the e-tailer said.
Transaction fees are 1.75 percent per card swipe through Jan. 1, 2016, for retailers that sign up before Oct. 31 and 2.5 percent for those that register after.
The Local Register app also provides a suite of business tracking tools; dedicated customer support; and compatible point-of-sale accessories, including cash drawers, receipt printers, smartphone cases and stands that are available on Amazon.com.
CE retailers have previously expressed grave concerns about the program, which could provide their No. 1 competitor with invaluable customer data and sensitive product and pricing information.
“Let them have all the information on our customers? Why would we want to do that?” Starpower chairman David Pidgeon remarked earlier this year, when word of the Amazon program first surfaced.
At the time, Frank Sandtner, member services VP for the Nationwide Marketing Group, described the prospect of an Amazon checkout system as “scary for an independent retailer. Amazon is a competitor [and] could request to view or copy your data, which is a big risk.”
Bill Trawick, president and executive director of the NATM Buying Corp., was similarly alarmed. “The main concern I would have would be the data that Amazon could get about our customers, our products, our pricing and our promotions. I can’t see why [dealers] would need this support.”
Amazon avoided the subject in a statement issued this morning by Matt Swann, the company’s local commerce VP. “Businesses and organizations using Amazon Local Register will enjoy industry-leading low rates, trusted and secure payment processing, and access to award-winning customer support,” he said. “We understand that every penny and every minute counts, so we want to make accepting payments so easy and inexpensive that it no longer gets in the way of a business owner doing what they love — serving their customers and growing their business.”