But even if it establishes a strong foothold in the retail sector with whatever Wallet develops into, I don't necessarily think Amazon is gunning for Sports Authority's or Sephora's business with this move. When you look at the list of merchants who have signed on to support the gift card balance feature, you'll see not only traditional retailers like Guitar Center and Petco, but also places that Amazon doesn't directly compete with, like The Cheesecake Factory and Whole Foods. I have no doubt that Amazon will be keeping tabs on how and when we use our gift cards to bolster its targeted advertising system, but I'm not sure that's the primary motivation. Rather, I think Amazon has its sights set on another richly profitable sector.
Today our wallets, tomorrow the world
Amazon's biggest enemy is cash, and Wallet is another step toward eliminating it. Almost as soon as it launched, rumors started ramping up about an upcoming card reader similar to what Square and PayPal offer. Amazon already processes transactions for other businesses with its Amazon Payments product, so a fleet of card readers shouldn't be that hard to implement. The eventual goal could be to turn Wallet into a seamless system for buying everything, online or off.
All of the pieces are there. Even if its phone experiment fails, Amazon Wallet could represent a whole new chapter in the company's story, one that takes the experience off the web and follows us everywhere we go. Kind of like a traveling salesman that always knows exactly what you want.
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