About three weeks ago, at Innovation Project 2016, Amazon’s VP of External Payments, Patrick Gauthier, dropped a big hint about the direction that Amazon might be taking payments outside of Amazon itself.
It was then during an interview with PYMNTS that he referenced the concept of how a light bulb works, to draw a payments and commerce analogy. Just like when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, Edison cared deeply about how electricity worked and whether his invention would work reliably. His end user, the consumer, didn’t give two hoots about how electricity worked, but only that they could now use a product to deliver light without candles.
“A payment is a bit like the electricity of commerce,” Gauthier then mused, “but the focus has to be commerce.”
Today, it’s true that consumers increasingly think (and care) less and less about how payments work. Rather, they only care that they do work and that they help them close the loop on commerce when and where that consumer wants. That’s something that Gauthier believes will become more prevalent as payments moves to the edges of traditional points of sale into (and inside) of other ecosystems like cars, appliances, other apps, and the eponymous plastic “Dash” buttons that Amazon now has 100 of and can summon anything from paper towels to snacks to cold medicine in a single click (of a plastic button).
Yesterday (April 4), the foreshadowing of his comments on Amazon’s external payments strategy were made more clear with the announcement of Amazon Payment’s Global Partner Program. Amazon Payments is interested in making it easy for third parties to enable the familiar yellow checkout button, so that their end users – the consumers — experience simple, one-click, secure checkout.
The Amazon Payments Partner Program offers eCommerce platform providers and developers options such as solution pre-integration and best practices to make it easier for merchants to adopt the solutions. Amazon also announced that merchants can receive exclusive benefits and services from the program, including knowledge-sharing and white glove integration services. The program is free to participate in and available by invitation in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan.
“The Amazon Payments Partner Program provides Partners with the tools and resources needed to extend the trust and convenience of the Amazon experience to their merchant customers,” Gauthier said. “We are working together across geographies and industries to help merchants grow and create experiences that delight customers throughout the shopping journey.”
But from Gauthier’s perspective, all of the APIs and slick integrations in the world can’t deliver the one thing that will compel both third parties and consumers to gravitate toward Amazon as a payment option: trust.
“You absolutely have to build and nurture trust,” Gauthier told PYMNTS. “The truth is, payment is a need, not an end. The end is the consumer experience that allows people to live their life in an easier way.”
Gauthier believes that starts with building the consumer’s trust by making sure that “you don’t waste their time, or money,” particularly when it comes to getting them to close that commerce loop on mobile.
“It takes 20 years to build trust, and 20 minutes to break that trust,” he asserted.
The importance of trust in commerce and payments decisions was affirmed last summer when PYMNTS surveyed 2,000 consumers and asked them what compels them to make buying decisions, and the choice of merchant and payments provider. Overwhelmingly, trust, more than price or even the presence of loyalty or rewards programs, is what drives consumer preference for a merchant – and the payments provider.
So, the pressure is on for merchants and payments providers to deliver on that brand proposition. Consumers know that if they don’t get the experience they want one place, then they can’t get it elsewhere – and there’s a slew of platforms and devices and providers constantly plying them with incentives to make the switch.
As Gauthier explained, the consumer is starting to think more about the payment experience, which increasingly includes the ability to authorize the payment in a frictionless manner as commerce moves to the mobile channel. That’s why, he believes, the payment experience should really be focused on the checkout experience.
“Checkout is not where a lot of value is created these days. Yes, you can streamline it, etc. But ultimately what [providers] want is to enable the consumer to take his or her identity — and the commerce dimension of identity — where they want to go. And to use it with the same degree of trust and convenience everywhere they want to go,” Gauthier said.
“The notion of commerce identity that enables people to go where they want to go and to use the tools that they are familiar with,” he added.
As technology and enabling commerce (and payments) via new technology — like the Amazon Echo, for example — continues to play a larger role in the connected commerce ecosystem. Gauthier said that it’s up to companies to design products that give consumers compelling use cases (that are also secure and trusted, of course).
“The focus has to be on the consumer use cases, and when that happens it’s phenomenal how fast things can occur,” he said.
But the trick to pushing payments and commerce to wherever consumers want to take it?
Being open to the “possibility to the future, and not fearful of it,” he concluded.
Words which Amazon – with the launch of its new payments platform, hope merchants and marketplaces take to heart.