Online wallet provider iPayYou is adding the option to pay with bitcoin when shopping on Amazon, promising a more “direct” and user-friendly process than similar offerings from competitors such as Gyft or Egifter.
Online Wallet iPayYou Adds Bitcoin to Amazon Shopping
For years people have dreamed about Amazon announcing its acceptance of bitcoin as a payment method, but until that happens several companies are trying to add that mechanism. Seattle-based iPayYou may have managed to produce the smoothest and simplest process yet. iPayYou is using a similar “digital gift card” route as its competitors but with fewer hoops to jump through.
On iPayYou’s web page there are options to send and receive bitcoins, to top up funds from a bank account and to send money to an email address, a twitter handle or a bitcoin address. The recipient needs no prior knowledge about bitcoin to receive them, and his/her funds are displayed in USD all through iPayYou’s site.
When Bitcoin.com tried its features the online wallet performed flawlessly, including the “send-to-twitter” feature. iPayYou tweets a claim link to the recipient. The recipient needs to register an account with iPayYou to claim the transfer (see the adjacent screenshot, where Bitcoin.com COO Mate Tokay received a few bits by way of iPayYou). This built-in feature could have some viral effects; it may be a convincing experience to receive bitcoins via one’s Twitter account if new to the currency.
Lots Going On Under the Hood
The new “Amazon Direct” feature fits iPayYou’s general aim to “make bitcoin simple”. In the background iPayYou actually buys digital gift card balances via ACI, a Washington-based company, and transfers those fiat balances from its own Amazon account onto the user’s personal account at Amazon. This is only evident when checking the transaction history at Amazon.
iPayYou takes care of the conversion from fiat (USD) to bitcoin, but does not lock in the USD balance (the USD balance will change as the BTC exchange rate fluctuates). That feature is coming soon, said iPayYou. Disregarding what goes on under the hood, the user experience is a straightforward one. It’s just like transferring “regular” money from one bank account to another. The process takes about 15-30 seconds (so, almost “direct”).
“We’ve removed a lot of complexity compared to other options,” CEO Gene Kavner said in an interview with Bitcoin.com. “We actually transfer funds from iPayYou’s bank account to Amazon. They don’t even know it’s bitcoin.”
Although not officially approved, endorsed or supported by Amazon itself, iPayYou follows all Amazon:s policies, Kavner added. In fact, Amazon has put a stop to some earlier attempts at providing the same mechanism. Notable among them was Paycoin’s effort in 2014. But Kavner says those past actions from Amazon should not worry iPayYou users. He also compared it to the fact that competitor Purse is offering its customers discounts (currently around 15%) when shopping there – a practice frowned upon at the giant e-retailer, as Amazon wants to stay in control over its pricing.
Less Convoluted, but Not Without Fees
However there are some fees involved. iPayYou charges 1% per transaction, minimum 1 USD, plus the network fee (around 0.13 USD at the time of writing). For example, a 16.95 USD purchase would deduct 18.08 USD from your iPayYou account (for a total fee of approx. 7%). When sending to a Twitter account iPayYou wanted 0.29 USD to transfer 5 USD (approx. 6%). However, if you’re willing to accept the fees, iPayYou’s process was at the time of writing less convoluted than some alternative services, as we found out when we went through the hoops to try them.
What do you think about the new options at iPayYou? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of iPayYou, Twitter, Shutterstock
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