Amazon Pay launches peer-to-peer payments in India

Continuing its investment in India, Amazon today announced the launch of person-to-person (P2P) payments via Amazon Pay for Android users in the country. Customers can now make instant bank-to-bank transactions through the UPI platform on the localized version of the Amazon app, allowing them to settle bills and other expenses with friends, lend or return money to family, pay for services and more. Notably, the new P2P service also will allow customers to make payments from their bank account to local stores or to Amazon delivery associates at the doorstep, who will scan a UPI QR code within the Amazon app.

The service is built on the Indian government-backed UPI platform, which is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India, and is designed for instant transfer of funds between bank accounts using a mobile device. With the Amazon Pay service, customers can either send or receive P2P payments by choosing a contact from their phone’s address book or by entering their UPI ID or the recipient’s bank account.

When a contact is selected, Amazon’s app will automatically detect if the person is a registered Amazon Pay UPI customer and enable the bank transfer. If the contact is not registered for Amazon Pay UPI, the customer then has the option to pay through another BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) UPI ID or the contact’s bank account, as an alternative.

Amazon Pay also allows customers to make repeat payments more easily by displaying their recent transactions. And all the payments are secured through multi-factor authentication involving the customer’s phone number, SIM details and the UPI PIN, says Amazon.

When the money is transferred, both the customer and the recipient are notified through in-app notifications and SMS alerts.

“Our goal is to make Amazon Pay the most trusted, convenient and rewarding way to pay for our customers,” said Vikas Bansal, director of Amazon Pay, in a statement. “The customers trust their Amazon app and we continue to expand payment use cases directly on the app. With this launch, we have the largest selection of shopping and payment use cases on the Amazon Android app which provides added convenience and control to our customers.”

The move also will aid Amazon in its impending battle with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in the region. Recently, Amazon launched a program to manage the B2B inventory supply and management of a number of neighborhood mom-and-pop stores (aka Kirana stores), according to a report by the Business Standard. The program, which is live in three cities in Karnatsaka, allows retailers and store owners to order online and have products delivered to their doorstep the following day, the report claimed.

The plan is to expand this program across India, if the pilot succeeds.

There are some 12 million Kirana stores in India, and they still account for a majority (~90 percent) of retail business in the country. However, only 3 percent are tech-enabled. That represents a big opportunity for Amazon, as the stores themselves are beginning to embrace technology in order to compete with online grocers.

Amazon Pay’s P2P feature can help feed into the retailer’s larger plans to bring India’s cash-based customers and merchants into the digital age, at the same time it works to bring e-commerce to the region and cashless payments and other services to neighborhood stores.

Along these lines, Amazon confirmed in March it was rolling out the Amazon Smile code — a QR code that’s scanned to pay for items — to physical stores like Shoppers Stop, and others.

Combined, Amazon’s various payment initiatives can help create customer loyalty to the Amazon brand and build new habits among consumers.

Amazon is getting a late start, however, when it comes to P2P payments in India. Its rivals (Paytm, Google Pay and PhonePe) already support P2P, with Google Pay in the lead.  

With the launch of P2P, Amazon is incentivizing customers to use its service by offering up to Rs 120 cash back by sending money through UPI.

The feature is available in the Amazon app for Android, through new “Send Money” and “Request Money” links.