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Amazon Wallet takes the online retailer into the real world



Amazon WalletThere’s been a lot of talk about Amazon getting into the mobile payment market and it looks like they’re taking the first step with a new app. Amazon Wallet is now available for Android users through the AmazonApp store and Google Play. It’s listed as a Beta release and that’s good, because this little piggy has a long way to go.

As it stands now, the app only does one thing. It keeps track of your loyalty and gift cards so you don’t have to carry them around in your wallet. . . except when you have to. (Says Amazon: Physical gift cards may be necessary for redemption in some locations or may contain additional useful information. Keep your physical gift card in a safe place even after uploading it to your Amazon Wallet.)

An app that eliminates the need for a dozen plastic wallet cards is terrific but it seems like an awfully low bar for Amazon. There are already dozens of programs that do this including Google Wallet which also handles mobile payments. I have to assume that this is where Amazon is headed eventually. It makes perfect sense, since many Amazon users already have money in their Amazon accounts. They have gift cards and payments for items sold to or through Amazon. Even the Mechanical Turk workers get paid through Amazon.

Still, when I think about Amazon, I don’t think about shopping in a brick and mortar store. In away, it’s a slap in the face to stores who are losing business to the ecommerce giant. Here I am at Borders Books using my Amazon Wallet to access my loyalty card.

And that makes me wonder. . . what happens to all of that loyalty card data? Will Amazon be able to see how many time I access my Borders loyalty card? Will they send me an email after every purchase telling me how I could have paid less if I’d bought that book online? Surely, they aren’t supporting this app as a service to mankind. Then again, it’s a major source of branding. . . seeing that Amazon logo right in front of my face every time I buy something at a local retailer.  . . .  it’s insidious.

Going forward, Amazon Wallet will come pre-loaded on all new Fire Phone devices. I’m betting that by the end of the year, you’ll be able to use the app to spend the money in your Amazon account on real items in the real world. Just in time for Christmas.