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Amazon Now Accepts Cash for Online Purchases—Here’s Why

Amazon may have led the push for cashless commerce with its Amazon Go store concept, but it appears the retailer has recognized that for many consumers, the idea of a cash-free economy is far from realistic.

This week, the company announced the expansion of its PayCode program to the U.S. market, allowing Amazon shoppers to pay cash for their purchases on the online marketplace. The program is already available in 19 countries across the world.

To use it, consumers select the PayCode option on the Amazon checkout page, and then pay for their purchase in cash at one of 15,000 Western Union locations nationwide. According to a statement from Amazon, 80 percent of Americans live within five miles of a participating Western Union branch.

The company has also launched a second program, Amazon Cash, which allows shoppers to load their Amazon Balances with cash in order to make online purchases. Amazon has more than 100,000 cash-loading locations across the country where customers can add between $5 and $500 in cash to their Amazon Balance. The funds become available for use immediately, and there are no fees associated with using Amazon Cash as an option.

Despite leading the charge into the age of digital commerce, Amazon, with the rollout of these new programs, seems to be acknowledging the important role that cash plays in the lives of many Americans. Amazon pointed to Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco statistics from 2018 that show 77 percent of payments in the U.S. were made in person—and 39 percent of those transactions were made with cash instead of credit or debit options.

“Customers have told us they love the convenience of paying in cash,” Ben Volk, director of payments at Amazon, said in a statement. “Together with Western Union, we’re able to offer customers more shopping choices, enabling them to pay for their online purchases in a way that is convenient for them.”

“We’re embracing the complexity of a world where cash and digital payments are likely to coexist far into the future,” Khalid Fellahi, president of consumer money transfer for Western Union, added. “We are providing easy solutions for customers who want access to the convenience of online shopping but prefer to pay in-person.”