Same-Day ACH And Remote Retail Sizzle While Amazon Notches The Rare Fizzle Two-fer

It was a good week for same day ACH, voice activated virtual assistants and finding ways to attend to unattended retail – and sizzle abounded. It wasn’t quite as good a week to be Amazon – which notched the rare double fizzle with a suburban grocery delivery signing off – and the Amazon Key getting the cold should from Prime members.

Fizzle Of The Week: Amazon Key

While Amazon generally gets it right when it comes to giving customers what they want – see Prime, the Echo, Alexa, video streaming services, same-day delivery, a shopping holiday in July – no one gets it right all the time.

See the Fire Phone.

And though this week had plenty of sizzle-worthy entrants from Amazon that we’d hate to be accused of overlooking – the expansion of Amazon Cash into 7-Eleven stores, and its pre-holiday move to slash the prices of what its marketplace sellers are selling – Amazon managed the rare fizzle this week with Amazon Key, an innovation in package delivery that seems to be leaving Prime members cold.

Amazon Key is designed to give Amazon Prime subscribers an option to prevent packages from sitting unattended outside where they can be easily stolen (and, thanks to porch pirates, often are). The Key service heads that off by giving customers a way to let delivery drivers unlock their houses, leaving packages safe and sound on the other side of the door.

Launched alongside the Amazon Cloud Cam, the Amazon Key In-Home Kit comes with the camera, as well as a smart lock compatible with the service, bundled together for the non-trivial cost of $249.99.

“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors,” said Peter Larsen, vice president of delivery technology for Amazon. “Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones.”

Not really.

As it turns out, this is not peace of mind that Amazon Prime customers were actually seeking. A SurveyMonkey poll by Recode indicates that 58 percent of Amazon Prime customers have absolutely no interest in buying Amazon Key – only slightly less than the 61 percent of all U.S. adults in general who say they would not buy it.

Meanwhile, only 5 percent of customers said they would definitely be buying one – only slightly ahead of the 4 percent of U.S. shoppers in general who said they had an interest (and no issues with strange people being able to enter their homes).

Security camera or no security camera.

Among poll participants, 60 percent were already Amazon Prime customers. And among that rather small minority of shoppers who expressed interest – largely due to novelty and convenience – some remarked that the product in and of itself was “genius.”

For the much larger set who said, “no thanks,” privacy and security topped the list of concerns.

But ready or not, the Key has started shipping.

For now, given the near-complete lack of enthusiasm it has generated, Amazon Key has certainly has earned its fizzle this week. When 60 percent of your most dedicated customers respond with “never” in terms of buying your new product, it is hard to feel any sizzle there.

However, we should note that it is still very early days, and this may be more a launch fizzle than a device fizzle. After all, when Airbnb launched, the most common complaint was that it was “creepy” to go sleep in a room in some complete stranger’s house. These days, home sharing has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that is threatening some of the world’s most established hotel chains.

But Airbnb has become much more than Aunt Mary renting out her spare bedroom on the cheap to make a few extra bucks.

Today, anyway, Amazon Key appears to be something of a fizzle. One thing’s for sure: Whether or not it ever becomes a sizzle, it’s an interesting test of just how far consumers are willing to stretch the definition of Amazon as a trusted commerce partner. Buying stuff and letting a stranger in your home to deliver that stuff are two entirely different things.

At least that’s how it seems today.


Voice assistants to be a part of daily home life: Soon the chatter will be everywhere. Juniper Research estimates that speaking to speakers will be a common practice in 55 percent of homes in the United States within five years. That’s a pretty high percentage, and consider some even more impressive numbers: Juniper says 175 million devices will be in the parlor, or the bedroom, or wherever. Amazon Echo, Google Home? Yes, but the research opines that the majority of interactions will occur over mobile devices – meaning the conversations will be in every room of the house, and quite possibly endless if you’ve got teenagers.

Same-day ACH: Some encouraging stats from joint research from NACHA and PYMNTS. Speed, it seems, thrills. Some 14 months since launch, and among 125 FIs surveyed, 66 percent are making same-day funds available. No respondents have seen a boost in fraud. About 75 percent of firms plan to offer same-day ACH credit origination to their business customers by the end of 2018.

Attending to the unattended retail space: USA Technologies buys Cantaloupe Systems, boosting cloud and mobile functionality for vending. This means wide(r)spread adoption of kiosks, for example, and with them, a possible boost to contactless payments. Not a bad slice (get the melon reference?) business to be in.


SMBs take it on the chin in India: One year into demonetization, SMBs are struggling in India, as they have dealt mainly in cash, and have also been buffeted by tax reform. As a result, many firms have suffered through what one source told CNN Money has been “terrible” as, unable to afford and implement the technologies needed to comply with digital initiatives (and tax rules), they have laid off workers.

Amazon (not so) Fresh in the ‘burbs: It’s a rare misstep for the eCommerce giant, which stated that it is phasing out grocery service in some markets, ranging from New Jersey to Virginia. It turns out suburbia is a rather expensive place to do business, in an increasingly crowded meal and food delivery market.

Cybercrime getting bigger and badder: Europol’s director, Robert Wainwright, warns that cybercrime is “remorseless” with “congregations” of bad guys launching thousands of attacks a day – 4,000 ransomware forays per diem, in fact. As some threats are doubling or tripling in scale, people and corporations are still lacking in defenses, as the criminal underworld proves ever smarter, trickier and well, determined to pilfer our data, money and sense of security.


Featured PYMNTS Study: 

With eyes on lowering costs to improving cash flow, 85 percent of U.S. firms plan to make real-time payments integral to their operations within three years. However, some firms still feel technical barriers stand in the way. In the January 2020 Making Real-Time Payments A Reality Study, PYMNTS surveyed more than 500 financial executives to examine what it will take to channel RTP interest into real-world adoption. Here’s what we learned.