Will Amazon’s New CEO Embrace Crypto?

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Jeff Bezos, the founder of online retail giant Amazon, announced today that he will step down as CEO later this year. Andy Jassy, who currently leads the corporation’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services (AWS), will take the reins in Q3.

Under Jassy’s leadership, AWS introduced Amazon Managed Blockchain, a service for developers looking to build in Hyperledger Fabric or Ethereum (Preview) without supplying their own hosting or hardware.

As the CEO of America’s biggest tech company, Jassy may want to look at integrating cryptocurrency payments.

What Would It Take for Amazon to Accept Bitcoin?

Jassy’s enthusiasm for blockchain tech isn’t boundless. At a 2018 AWS keynote, he said, “We just hadn’t seen that many blockchain examples in production or that couldn’t pretty easily be solved by a database.” Therefore, instead of building an Amazon blockchain, Jassy directed energy toward Amazon Quantum Ledger Database. Like blockchains, it makes claims to transparency, immutability, and cryptographic security. Unlike blockchains, it relies on a “central trusted authority.”

But this isn’t 2018. Jassy will take control of the world’s third-largest company at a time when corporations are increasingly looking for ways into crypto, not blockchain. 

Facebook has spearheaded the Diem Association as it eyes a tokenized payments system that will work across its various social media platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has relied on the work of cryptocurrency veterans to jumpstart a decentralized social media standard.

Given Amazon’s status as the United States’ top online seller, its stance on crypto is hugely relevant for cryptocurrency adoption. In 2014, Overstock.com became the first major US retailer to accept Bitcoin. It’s since been joined by companies and organizations as diverse as Wikipedia and KFC. But no one gets as many eyeballs—and wants to facilitate seamless payments—as much as Amazon.

While users of Purse.io can shop with Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash in Amazon, a complete integration of crypto payments would provide users with payment options beyond their checking and credit card accounts. 

PayPal, which isn’t directly integrated to Facebook, has already taken baby steps toward integration with payments. Last year, it integrated cryptocurrency purchases on its platform. Alternatively, Amazon has the clout, just as Facebook does, to create its own token.

Easier said than done. As BitPay's director of product, Sean Rolland, told Decrypt in November, "To directly take Bitcoin as a method of payment, Amazon would have to build processes and procedures to accept, hold and manage Bitcoin and thousands of other cryptocurrencies."

Moreover, he said, "They would have to assume the inherent market volatility risks associated with holding crypto on their balance sheet and selling crypto to/through a crypto exchange in exchange for fiat currency."

Still, Jassy is an innovator. As the founder of AWS, he saw that Amazon could dominate outside of retail by owning the infrastructure. Now, as the incoming CEO of the parent company, one of the key questions he’ll face is whether the company should ride the Web3 wave.

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