Amazon launches Flexible Payments Service

Amazon.com unveiled a beta version of a new web service aimed at allowing developers to more easily incorporate payment processing into their sites.

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Amazon.com unveiled a beta version of a new web service aimed at allowing developers to more easily incorporate payment processing into their sites.

Just as Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) provides on-demand storage capacity and its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) provides as needed computing capacity, Amazon's Flexible Payments Service (FPS) "shields developers from many of the messy and complex issues which arise when dealing with money," wrote Jeff Barr, Amazon's web services evangelist, on the company's blog.

FPS is a set of web services APIs built on top of Amazon's payment infrastructure that allow the movement of money between two entities, humans or computers, the company said.

"We've taken all that we know about dealing with credit cards, bank accounts, fraud checking and customer service and wrapped it all up into one convenient package," Barr wrote.

FPS includes cross-checked payment instructions from each party to confirm the validity of each transaction. Developers can use this model to create one-time or recurring transaction and transactions limited by data or amount, according to Amazon.

There are no minimum fees and no start-up charges to use FPS; All pricing is per-transaction based on the transaction size and the payment method, Amazon said.

Amazon has developed an FPS Sandbox for developers to test their applications without actually moving money. In the sandbox, developers can simulate various types of errors in the payment process to test the new application.

Although FPS is in beta, Barr noted that "the entire payment system is fully functional and the applications listed above are now capable of dealing with real money and real transactions. As you can imagine, there's a substantial amount of behind the scenes work happening here and we are planning to increase the load on our systems and on our people in a controlled fashion."

As well as using technology for its own business needs, Amazon also sells its e-commerce expertise and systems to other business, with customers including Marks & Spencer.

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