Amazon’s bid to be a key player in the world of mobile payments looks like it has taken a step back today. Amazon Wallet, an Android app developed by the company to store loyalty and gift cards, has now been pulled from the Google Play store and Amazon’s own app store, where links to each are now dead.
“We’ve learned a great deal from the Amazon Wallet beta program and will look for ways to apply these lessons in the future as we continue to innovate on behalf of our customers,” Tom Cook, an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to TechCrunch.
The move to rethink its wallet strategy comes at a time when Amazon has been struggling on another mobile front: its Fire Phone has not been received that well and the company has been reducing prices in an attempt to shift stock.
But it also comes at a time when it is unlikely that Amazon will back away from mobile commerce altogether. Google and PayPal are reportedly looking to raise its game in payments, having both approached Softcard (the payments startup co-owned by U.S. carriers). And of course Apple has thrown its hat into the ring with Apple Pay.
Indeed, from what we understand, the axing of the mobile wallet will have no impact on the company’s mobile point-of-sale service for iOS, Android and Kindle-based Amazon Local Register, which is still live. And Amazon’s statement on the app leaves the door wide open for the wallet functionality to return again soon in another guise.
Amazon Wallet quietly launched last summer in beta. At the time, we pointed out that it seemed half-baked: while users could load up loyalty and gift cards, there was no facility to store credit or debit cards, or to make payments using the app.
But after going live, users started to give it negative reviews,undermining Amazon’s bigger strategies to offer services that tie it closer to physical merchants; highlight its hardware; and make consumers’ lives easier.
“No merchant I have tried has been able to scan my phone to get the barcode,” read the first review on Amazon’s page for the app (which you can still see by way of a Google cache). “Doesn’t work with the Fire Phone,” noted another. “This makes it too much trouble to use for reward/loyalty cards,” said a third.
The app had picked up an average of 3.1 out of 5 stars among all reviewers.
CNET originally reported Amazon’s plans to remove the apps last night, citing notes that the company was sending out to users.