By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Not even a year after quietly launching their Wallet app, Amazon has pulled the app and support for it from their website. Cnet reported that users of Amazon Wallet app were notified this week via email of the change, and were told the company was shutting it down. Amazon is also removing it completely from the Google Play and Amazon store. Amazon Wallet was the recipient of lukewarm reviews, especially in the wake of Apple Pay which launched a few months later, and it's no surprise that Amazon has decided to abandon the project, which supported nearly 70 retailers.
Amazon Wallet only held gift cards and loyalty cards for various retailers, rather than credit and debit cards. Users were able to add the cards by typing or scanning in a barcode. Amazon would then create QR codes from the cards. Due to the waning interest in QR codes among retailers, this likely presented an obstacle for some retailers who might not be equipped to scan the codes properly. The other failure for the app may've been the fact users couldn't actually use Wallet to pay with common payment cards. The app was only in the beta stage, and Amazon didn't release the numbers of how many users they had.
"We have learned a great deal from the introduction of the Wallet and will look for ways to apply these lessons in the future as we continue to innovate on behalf of our customers," says Amazon spokesman Tom Cook in a statement. The online retailer hasn't announced if or when Amazon Wallet will return, though industry insiders have deemed the project a “failure.” Balances will no longer be updated on the app for users, but users will be able to use their existing cards on the app for now. From the app's initial release, Amazon was plagued by reviews complaining about a lack of function and citing it as too hard to use.
Amazon quietly purchased mobile payment processing company GoPago in December 2013, but only purchased the technology branch of the company. In August 2014, the online shopping giant launched its own Amazon card reader, Local Register, a month after launching Wallet, and it's clear that the company is invested in mobile payments, just not Amazon Wallet. The app was built into the Fire phone, which itself suffered low interest and poor sales.
Some industry experts, such as Mobile Commerce Daily, commented that one factor leading to failure on the retailer side for the app might've been the fact some retailers who could've signed up to participate viewed Amazon as a competitor. The same can't be said about Apple, which is why retailers were more open-minded about the Apple Pay partnerships. To date, Apple has developed over 200,000 partnership with retailers including Macy's, Walgreen's, Nike and more. With Amazon Wallet on hiatus for now and the Fire phone not accelerating in popularity, Amazon may opt to go back to the drawing board.