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What is Amazon Pay UK?

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Last editedMar 20233 min read

Amazon is the latest tech giant to create its own payment solution. Any solution backed by a company the size of Amazon deserves to be given serious attention. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to what you need to know about Amazon Pay UK.

What is Amazon Pay UK?

Amazon Pay is an accelerated checkout system. At present, it is only available to merchants in selected countries and only supports the currencies USD, GBP, JPY, and EUR. Presumably, if Amazon Pay is a success, it will be made available in more markets and currencies. It is also only available online. It’s not clear if this will change in future.

How does Amazon Pay work - the basics?

Amazon Pay essentially works the same way as the mobile payment systems and ewallets. They store payment information rather than acting as a payment processor. In other words, if a customer chooses Amazon Pay, Amazon will pass the details of the transaction to a payment processor. It will not process the payment itself.

At present, Amazon Pay only supports debit, credit and charge cards. It does not support bank payments. Again, since Amazon Pay is so new, it’s unclear whether this will change in future.

How does Amazon Pay work - for merchants?

Most SMEs will probably implement Amazon Pay by means of an extension or plugin for their ecommerce provider. Larger merchants may wish to use the Amazon API.

How does Amazon Pay work - for customers?

Customers simply choose Amazon Pay at the checkout in the same way as they’d choose any other payment method. The key difference is that they can often make their payment in one step. This is more convenient than having to enter their payment details manually.  

For higher-value purchases, their card provider may require payers to undertake an extra authentication check. These checks are, however, designed to be as straightforward as possible (for legitimate payers).

Advantages of Amazon Pay

One of the golden rules of ecommerce is to make your checkout process as simple as it can possibly be. This is essential to minimising basket abandonment. Amazon Pay can make checkout as simple as pressing a single button.

Disadvantages of Amazon Pay

While Amazon Pay could be an interesting solution for a lot of merchants, it does have its disadvantages too. Here is a quick guide to the main ones.

Not everybody has an Amazon account

Amazon Pay uses the details people keep in their Amazon accounts. It is true that Amazon is an ecommerce behemoth. This means that it has a huge customer base. It is, however, also true that not everyone uses it.

Needs another payment method to work

Amazon Pay is essentially a way to access card payments. This means that it will only work if the purchaser has their up-to-date card details stored in their Amazon account.  

People who use Amazon regularly (e.g. Prime subscribers) will be prompted to update their card details as required. People who don’t, however, may well end up with expired cards on their record.


Merchants will need to pay any fees Amazon charges on top of standard card-acceptance charges.

Complexity on disputes

The payment transaction will be governed by Amazon Pay. This means that it will need to follow any dispute rules set down by Amazon Pay. It may or may not also have to follow additional rules set down by the card providers.

No buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) option

At present, Amazon Pay does not have a buy-now-pay-later option. This may be implemented in future.  

If it is, however, then, as currently stands, the instalments would need to be taken from payment cards. This then brings up the issue of payment failure. Again, this is something that Amazon may address in the future. Right now, however, it is a disadvantage.

Alternatives to Amazon Pay

There are numerous other online payment solutions available to merchants in the UK. Most of them, however, can be broken down into one of three categories. These are:

  • Payment cards

  • Solutions that sit on top of payment cards (e.g. ewallets and mobile payments).

  • Bank payments (e.g. direct debit and Instant Bank Pay)

Capturing payment cards directly is the lowest-cost method of accepting them. The main issue with it is that it can create friction at the checkout. This is particularly likely if the customer is on a mobile device.  

Using solutions that sit on top of payment cards can help to reduce this. These solutions do, however, typically charge their own fees on top of the card fees. As a result, they can quickly become very expensive.

Bank payments can be much more affordable than card payments, especially credit card payments. They also have a much lower rate of failure. This is because a customer’s bank details do not expire the way cards do. Likewise, they cannot be lost, stolen or damaged.

At present, bank payments are not optimised for one-off payments where the amount is calculated at the checkout. By contrast, they are a great solution for one-off payments where the amount is known in advance. They are ideal for recurring payments including buy-now-pay-later instalments.

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