Amazon is eyeing cryptocurrency — but it won’t be Bitcoin

 "We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments."
4 August 2021

A bitcoin ATM is seen inside the Big Apple Tobacco Shop in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Amazon denied a report last week that thee-commerce giant had plans to begin accepting Bitcoin payments by the end of this year, but acknowledged an interest in cryptocurrency.

UK business daily City AM cited an unnamed insider as saying Amazon would start taking cryptocurrency, citing a recent job posting by the company for someone with digital currency and blockchain skills. Contacted by AFP, an Amazon spokesperson said information in the story was “fabricated,” but that the company does have its eyes on the cryptocurrency sector.

“Not withstanding our interest in the space, the speculation that has ensued around our specific plans for cryptocurrencies is not true,” the spokesperson said. “We remain focused on what this could look like for customers shopping on Amazon.”

Cryptocurrency values climbed based solely on the speculation that Bitcoin might be accepted for Amazon purchases. But the Amazon representative pooh-pooh’d the news, remarking that while the e-commerce and fulfillment giant is interested in the crypto ecosystem, Bitcoin payments is still not on the cards.

“We’re inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like at Amazon,” the spokesperson said. “We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible.”

After dipping from early May to mid-July, Bitcoin briefly rose above US$40,000 on Monday before losing ground. It was trading at US$37,209 about 2300 GMT last week Monday. The cryptocurrency sector is known as a bit of a roller coaster ride for investors, and is being watched warily by authorities and regulators concerned about its lack of transparency.

Amazon not the only cryptocurrency link

Backlash by governments caused Facebook to scale back plans unveiled in 2019 for a global cryptocurrency called “Libra”. The project, entrusted to an independent association, has shifted to fielding “Diem” stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency whose value is based on select real-world currencies.

Amazon handles hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions annually, making it a huge marketplace for cryptocurrency to make a debut as legal tender. The speculation around the take-up was accompanied by the news that Tesla boss Elon Musk and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey had debated the future of Bitcoin at an event — with the Twitter supremo touting Bitcoin as the “best candidate” to become the “native currency” of the internet.

“So I think it’s hugely important to Twitter and to Twitter shareholders that we continue to look at the space and invest aggressively in it,” he added. Experts claim it is essentially the first time that Dorsey has spoken publicly about how Twitter could integrate Bitcoin into its product lineup.