Amazon Go Stores Will Add More Payment Methods
For the second time in just a few months, Amazon is caving to public pressure. Of course, we all know about the widely talked about and reported on collapse of the HQ2 plans in Long Island City. The latest uprising, though, focused on the Amazon Go store concept.
As Dealerscope reported back in February, the city of Philadelphia passed a resolution that required stores in the city to accept cash—effectively banning Amazon from bringing the Go store concept into the city. Amazon Go, which has a handful of locations open, is a cashierless store concept that uses sensors and cameras to track items that have been removed from the shelf and charges customers via a connected app as they exit the store. The store, as it currently exists, doesn’t require customers to queue up and pay for their items at a register or engage with employees while purchasing their products, removing the process of handing over cash or swiping a credit card.
Amazon Go is an innovative take on the retail experience that received plenty of praise from the tech and retail communities when it first launched last year. But the no-cash model is apparently also viewed as discriminatory by some lawmakers and parts of the public. By not accepting cash, those against the concept posit, Amazon is effectively shutting out unbanked customers who don’t utilize the banking system or have access to all of the features provided by traditional banking systems.
According to a CNBC report, Philadelphia was joined in its cashless store ban by the state of New Jersey, and other cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago—all of which are considering similar laws. Massachusetts has had a law in place for decades that requires stores to accept cash, the report said.
So, with mounting political challenges and pressure from the public, Amazon has discussed internally and reportedly already decided to start accepting cash at Amazon Go stores. CNBC uncovered the plans via an internal Amazon communication they obtained that was confirmed by a company spokesperson.
“We’re working to accept cash at Amazon Go,” that person said. “You’ll check out, pay with cash, and then get your change.”
Beyond that very succinct play-by-play of going through a checkout line, no other details were shared as to what the process of paying with cash would look like at an Amazon Go store.
As for the level of accessibility that Amazon Go stores were reportedly shutting off, a U.S. News report from this past fall found that the number of Americans who don’t have a bank account is at its lowest level ever. Roughly 6.5 percent of U.S. households are considered “unbanked,” which translates to around 8.4 million households or 14.1 million adults. When expanded to look at the number of “underbanked” households—those with a primary bank account but use nontraditional financial services like pawn shops and money transfer services—the number jumps to 19 percent.
Amazon currently operates 10 Amazon Go locations, but the company has said it plans to aggressively expand the concept across the country. Their goal is to have roughly 3,000 Go stores in business by 2021.