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Amazon launches self-cloning experiment

Invasion of the checkout snatchers

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Amazon has officially unveiled its answer to PayPal.

Yesterday, the etail giant quietly launched Checkout by Amazon - not to be confused with Google Checkout, Google's answer to PayPal.

With this new payment service, you can buy stuff from third-party net merchants using your existing Amazon account, already populated with your credit card number and shipping details. Of course, third party net merchants must first agree to use the service. But you can be sure more than a few will jump at the prospect of pitching Amazon's 81 million registered customers.

What's more, Amazon is offering up other pieces of its oh-so-familiar online store. Third-party partners can add Amazon-style "1-Click" ordering buttons, for instance, or even up-sell you just like Amazon does.

So, the world's largest online retailer is hoping to clone itself - over and over again. "Customers will be coming through an experience that is really similar to Amazon’s," vice president of Amazon Payments Mark Stabingas told The New York Times. "People will like the familiarity and the comfort associated with that."

Amazon launched a PayPal-like beta program last summer, but this is the first time the company has officially launched a payment service designed to leverage brainwashed online shoppers across the globe. It has also launched a simplified version of Checkout by Amazon, known - appropriately enough - as Amazon Simple Pay. This leaves out stuff like 1-Click and shameless up-selling.

Yes, Google Checkout is a flop next to PayPal. But there's no denying Amazon has an advantage here. eBay will see to it that Checkout by Amazon does not appear on eBay. But it will turn up elsewhere, hypnotizing online shoppers the world over. ®

Bootnote

At the moment, Checkout by Amazon is only available in the US.

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