The fantasy of Amazon accepting Bitcoin may not be so far off after all.
Many of us may have been amused by recent comments by Roger Ver, who emphatically declared that Amazon will accept Bitcoin within a year. More significant was Tom Taylor’s dashing of such hopes when he said, “We’re not hearing from customers that it’s right for them and don’t have any plans within Amazon to engage bitcoin.”
Until now, there has been a noticeable divide between the niche players accepting Bitcoin, like Overstock, fiverr and Tigerdirect, versus the heavy hitters staying on the sidelines, like Amazon, eBay and PayPal.
eBay CEO did excite many when he said, “We think bitcoin will play a very important role in the future. Exactly how that plays out, and how we can best take advantage of it and enable it with PayPal, that’s something we’re actively considering. It’s on our radar screen.” But one must be mindful though of the backdrop behind these comments. eBay & Co. have likely taken a highly diplomatic public stance following a rocky handling of earlier Bitcoin-related matters.
But the recent highlighting of a 2012 patent assigned to Amazon Technologies Inc. shows that they may be more open to Bitcoin than we think.
The details of Patent 8,719,131 can be found here. It is titled, “Allocating financial risk and reward in a multi-tenant environment.” The patent explores the concept of a flexible funding scheme to maximize the efficiency of cloud-based resources. It comes to solve the problem of unexpected costs driven by larger or smaller-than-expected assignment of resources to clients. Amazon has become one the world’s largest resources for cloud services.
In discussing flexible forms of funding, the notion of digital currency is raised:
“In at least some embodiments, particularly where the request is to perform a single task, the user may not even have to provide any type of identity signing a request, user credentials, or other such identifying information. As an example, a user might submit a request to obtain dedicated access to an application server instance for a period of two hours, and can provide digital cash with the request in the amount needed for the requested two hour period of time. Various types of digital cash, electronic money, or crypto-currency can be used, such as Bitcoins provided by the Bitcoin P2P Currency System.“
It is still too early to tell how seriously the notion of Bitcoin is being taken. It could just be that Bitcoin happens to be the best-known example today of digital cash, and is fitting for mention within the context. As indicated, other forms of digital cash, or some variant of Amazon Coins, can be equal candidates.
Optimists will read more into it. Even if Amazon isn’t gearing up to accept Bitcoin straight out, they are at least getting their foot in the door. From there, they can comfortably move to the next stages of integration.
Today, one can technically use bitcoins to purchase products on Amazon, albeit indirectly. For example, eGifter allows for the purchase of Amazon gift cards with bitcoins, which can then be used to purchase almost anything. But this is still a long way from their accepting of Bitcoin directly, even via a Coinbase, which would then convey their official blessing upon cryptocurrency.