Mobile merchant sites can already offer "pay with Amazon" as an option beside PayPal or their own checkout flow. However Amazon may now be preparing a bigger push and more direct competition with PayPal, Square and others in the mobile payments arena.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that "Amazon.com may be nearing a deal to buy payments startup GoPago." GoPago is a JP Morgan Chase backed payments startup aimed at the small business market. The company provides a range of payment services including a free "Square register"-like terminal and POS system.
In the fairly noisy payments market I wouild speculate that GoPago has struggled to gain traction and its investors may be looking for an exit. By the same token it's natural for Amazon to embrace mobile payments more fully.
Amazon has roughly 200 million consumer credit cards on file. While this is quite a bit less than Apple it's more than PayPal. And although I haven't seen any survey data on this question I suspect that Amazon has a more trusted consumer brand than PayPal. Thus Amazon is a logical candidate to enter mobile and smartphone-based payments directly and could be a major player in the segment.
In a move to bolster its own mobile and e-commerce position PayPal acquired Braintree for $800 million in September.
Apple is another very logical candidate for mobile and online payments given its massive database of consumer credit cards. Indeed Apple CEO Tim Cook keeps teasing this idea by repeating the number of consumer accounts and credit cards Apple has, now at or near 600 million.
If Apple were to power app-store payments and mobile transactions for third parties it could both remove friction from mobile commerce -- with Touch ID as the equivalent of Amazon's 1-click buying -- and potentially add meaningful revenues to its bottom line.
Update: PayPal acquires StackMob and gets more serious about being the mobile payments platform of choice for developers.