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Amazon's Simple Pay Subscription launches (amazon.com)
42 points by lsb on Jan 7, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

I love you, Amazon. If the integration on this works fairly decently (at least as well as Paypal's) I think I'll try that for my upcoming SAAS project.

Things I'll be looking at:

* Do you require customers to have an Amazon account to use this? (This is the #1 gotcha with Paypal recurring payments.)

* Is it easy to modify a subscription midstream? Can I give customers free months, discounts, etc?

* Administration tools? Administration API? (I want to click Refund on my site, not your site.)

* Can I conveniently work with multiple price points at once?

* Reporting: can you make my bookkeeping/accounting less painful?

* Migration: here's something Paypal has never done right -- suppose you sell the website or, for another reason, need to change what account receives payments. Do you have to cancel all subscriptions?

* Rails integration: can I get out of actually writing and testing as much of this as humanly possible?

>> * Do you require customers to have an Amazon account to use this? (This is the #1 gotcha with Paypal recurring payments.)

Step 2: Subscriber signs in to their Amazon account

Then it's another Fail.

If you use the underlying FPS APIs, I believe you can set up recurring payments with no logins (I'm only going on docs, I haven't had direct coding experience with FPS yet).

Quoting from http://aws.amazon.com/fps/faqs/#What_can_I_do_with_Amazon_FP...

"Use tokens to execute one-time or multiple payments or recurring payments on behalf of customers."


And from http://aws.amazon.com/fps/faqs/#What_payment_methods_does_Am...

"Amazon FPS supports the following payment methods:

- Bank Account debits

- Amazon Payments balance

- Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, and JCB).


It looks like the "Amazon Payments" option is what this Simple Pay subscription is employing, right?

I'm pretty certain that whomever is the source of the funds is still required to have an amazon account. I'd love to be wrong about this.

You're right. I just took the time to look deeper into the FPS documentation.

So I'm getting the impression authorize.net is what most people here use for no-account recurring payments?

"Administration tools? Administration API? (I want to click Refund on my site, not your site.)"

Looks like it's built on top of FPS:


... which has been available for some time:


"Do you require customers to have an Amazon account to use this?"

Certainly looks like it.

"Administration tools? Administration API? (I want to click Refund on my site, not your site.)"

Curious, why? I'd rather avoid integrating one more API.

Currently I use Paypal/Google Checkout, which don't give me the option of refunding algorithmically. I also do my stats tracking on my site. This means that when a customer asks for their money back I have to find their record in my system, click refund, then find it again in Paypal and click refund.

Am I lazy enough to spend 15 minutes once to save myself 30 seconds 30 times a year? Oh heck yes I am.

Yes, Amazon FPS / Simple Pay allow you to refund algorithmically. They have a Refund API which you can call.

This page is a superbly clear summary of the service. Someone at Amazon should be proud.

Especially since they managed to describe it without mentioning the price.

Can someone with experience processing payments themselves or with a similar service comment on the pricing? Thank you.


It's fair - a bit more expensive than you could get doing it yourself. I think if you shop around, you can 2.2% for Visa/MC and 20 cents per transaction even with no credit or volume. The question if it's worth it is how do they handle refunds, cancellations, and most especially - expired credit cards. In a monthly service, you might lose more to expiring CC's than to cancellations! People's cards go over their limit, get canceled, or simply expire. I was surprised when I started seeing monthly credit card attrition numbers, it can brutal.

So if Amazon lets customers cancel without you/your support team doing anything, that's valuable. If they let you offer "no questions asked refunds" where the customer can get it themself - that might be valuable. And biggest of all - if you can define an automatic process for dead CC's, that'd be really valuable. If Amazon would check if a CC verified, then automatically try again right away if it didn't, then again the next day and day after, then sent a series of 3 emails - if they offered something like that, that'd be phenomenal. I'm going to doubt they do though...

So their prices - competitive enough. You'll want to make sure you're not held hostage to them once you start using them, which I suspect you are. And does someone need an Amazon account to sign up? Big question there. Depending on what value they add, they might be worth using. But only if they don't hold your customer data hostage if you want to leave as you grow.

It looks cheaper than most of the payment gateway solutions offered by most banks (i.e. Chase Paymentech). And there doesn't seem to be a monthly fee.

If I understand correctly, you need to pay a percentage and base transaction fee to process credit cards anyway. This service from Amazon bakes their cut into those two charges already. The Amazon charges are cheaper than competing services, but how do they compare to doing it yourself? Is that even an option?

This service sounds highly attractive except for the requiring of an Amazon account. Hopefully, that problem can be mitigated somehow. I'd have to have a good hard think.

I think doing it yourself is an option.

You can integrate with something like authorize.net which I see mentioned a lot.

But they, in turn, integrate with what are the I guess actual processors:


(note that I have no direct experience here yet)

I'm confused now, at the link above Chase paymenttech is listed as a processor connection. But they are listed as an authorize.net reseller at this link?


I guess I have a lot to understand yet, sorry.

Is it expected to launch internationally?

I'd like to know as well. Amazon FPS seems like one of the best/most comprehensive solutions for payments, but from what I can gather from their site, it's currently still limited to companies with a physical address, bank account and credit card in the US. I'd love to use their services as a Canadian company...

Yes that's what I want to know. My company is incorporated in Hong Kong and apart from paypal I haven't found other payment processors I could use (that are not too expensive)... BTW, if anyone has some tips on that I'd be interested.

On a somewhat related note, has anyone read the OReilly book on AWS? I haven't looked into Amazon's documentation yet, but I'm wondering if the investment in that book would really help the integration process.

This hasn't launched yet. It's in the "sandbox," which means you can test it. I submitted a question asking if they had any sort of timetable on launching Subscriptions - nothing definitive in their response.

Nice! Will it also work for donations? Like Paypal donations! My guess is yes, but reading some more ...

Oops - spoke too soon - without checking the link on the same page: https://payments-sandbox.amazon.com/sdui/sdui/business?sn=pa...

Once again - I didn't understand, why is Donation restricted to 'Non-profit 501 C3 organizations' only? What if I create an online free service, and want to accept donations?

Sell "Supporter" accounts. 16x16 pixel marking on your user page, now only $24.95. We'll color it gold if you chip in $49.95 instead.

(And because I enjoy flailing at equines which have ceased to be, charge money for value.)

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