The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is looking at getting into the mobile POS business, by possibly providing brick-and-mortar retailers with in-store checkout systems based on Kindle tablets. 

Details are sketchy and few, but the report points to the fact that the online giant recently hired some key engineers away from mobile checkout firm GoPago, as well as some key acquisitions made in the past year.

(Read a couple of earlier reports about the Amazon-GoPage deal here and here.)

Amazon would likely go after smaller retailers first, the report hinted, putting the oinline giant in competition with existing payments players such as Square and PayPal.

"The game of mobile payments is going to be won or lost at the physical checkout, that's where nearly all of commerce is done today," said Richard Crone, chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm.

To draw in merchants, Amazon has considered allowing them to offer promotions or discounts through or its Amazon Local daily deals offers, the people briefed on the company's plans said.

But one very big question remains unanswered: whether merchants large or small are willing to enter into a data-sharing partnership with what is ostensibly their biggest competitor.

Read more about mobile POS.

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  • Philip Cohen
    Amazon/Apple/Whoever Payments … Online or at physical point-of-sale, via card or mobile—from the merchant’s point of view—they all suffer from the same severe handicap from which eBay’s clunky PayPal suffers: none have interactive access to buyers’ funds in retail banking debit accounts, nor to retail banking credit accounts as do have the MasterCard and Visa “bankcards”; their only access to funds is as retail bank Credit Card Merchant Account operators (which is what “PreyPal” claims to be when it wants to appear to be not operating as a “bank” in its own right) via their own retail bank (Wells Fargo in the case of “PreyPal”). Even if any of these middlemen make use of direct debits via the ACH system (as “PreyPal” prefers to do to more cheaply access buyers’ funds), the access is not interactive: there is no immediate acceptance of the debit by the bank nor any guarantee that, the following day, the bank won’t reverse the debit due to an insufficiency of funds; the direct debit via ACH is simply not a suitable medium for physical point-of-sale transaction payments; the only safe route for point-of-sale transactions (credit or debit) is via a retail bank Merchant Account with its interactive linking to the retail banking system … Regardless, these “pretenders” are all parasitic middlemen, an extra superfluous layer that, in the main, rides precariously on the back of the retail banks’ existing systems; they make their money out of the difference between what the banks/MasterCard/Visa charge them and what they then charge their merchant customers; therefore, their services, invariably, are going to be dearer, or are unlikely to be cheaper; anyone that thinks otherwise has been drinking too liberally of the disingenuous nonsense that continually flows from the eBay Dept of Spin … “PreyPal”, however, is unique in that it operates a “pretend” bank—the unlicensed “bank” they have to hold onto merchants’ receipts cash flow, and the bank they don’t have when the banking regulator comes sniffing around. That “PreyPal” manages to skirt wholly around US banking regulation while operating this clunky, unregulated, non-FDIC-insured, “pretend” bank, frankly, defies belief; possibly it’s due to the same bureaucratic laziness/corruption that allows eBay to knowingly and calculatedly facilitate demonstrable, massive, blatant, auction fraud on the consumers of the world … Regardless, if any of these middle-men players think that they are going to take other than micro-fractions, if any, of the payments market away from the MasterCard and Visa “bankcards”, I think that they are dreaming, or possibly they have accompanied Johnny Ho on one too many his many hallucinating trips with Alice down the rabbit hole to Wonderland … Anyway, with the recent arrival of the professional “digital wallets” from MasterCard and Visa, all these pretenders are—with the exception of where they are effectively mandated/integrated into an online marketplace—now effectively redundant … And, with respect to physical point-of-sale transactions by such pretenders (Square excepted, as it offers a hardware answer to a particular problem), can I simply invite readers to, next time they visit The Home Depot, ask a cashier how “Pay Here With PayPal” is going—LOL … Hello "MasterPass"; goodbye clunky "PreyPal"—it has not been nice knowing you ...
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