Purse is a platform that allows users to get a discount on their Amazon purchases by matching bitcoin holders with those who have a balance on the ecommerce platform. In a recent interview with Bitcoin Uncensored’s Chris DeRose, Purse CEO Andrew Lee discussed Purse’s relationship with Amazon.
Specifically, Lee talked about whether Amazon could or would want to shut down Purse’s operation. DeRose also asked Lee what would happen to Purse in a scenario where Amazon decided to accept bitcoin directly.
Would Amazon Want to Shut Down Purse?
Those who are somewhat skeptical of Purse’s business model sometimes wonder whether Amazon would want to figure out how to shut down the bitcoin startup. One perceived reason Amazon would want to shut down Purse is to increase the number of Amazon gift cards that are never actually used to purchase anything, which would mean Amazon basically got paid for nothing.
According to Lee, heavy escheatment taxes on unused gift cards at the state level mean it’s unclear how much Amazon gains from people never redeeming their gift cards. Amazon is essentially taxed when someone does not use their gift card after a certain number of years.
Lee has had conversations with individuals on the payment, affiliate marketing, and development teams at Amazon, and from his perspective, there is a generally positive attitude towards Purse in those departments. “We have a pretty good relationship with most people in all those groups,” he said.
In terms of Amazon employees’ interest in bitcoin, Lee said he’s heard there is a bitcoin channel on an Amazon employee Slack where Purse is often discussed. “We deliver products to Amazon employees all the time,” he added.
Could Amazon Shut Down Purse?
Although Purse’s relationship with Amazon seems fine right now, would Amazon be able to shut down the bitcoin startup if they wanted?
“There isn’t some kind of service that we sign up for on Amazon that enables us to do [what we do],” explained Lee. “[Amazon] wish lists are public; they’re public URLs. They’re widely used for wedding registries and things like that, so I don’t really see a scenario where we can get cut off from Amazon.”
DeRose pointed out that Amazon could initiate a sort of cat and mouse game where the e-commerce giant attempts to block IP addresses associated with the Purse platform.
Although Purse is not reliant on Amazon wish lists, the feature does enable better privacy for their users. “People don’t necessarily want to share their addresses with others, even though they do on platforms like eBay or even Amazon,” said Lee. “But one of the huge benefits of using bitcoin and saving on Purse is that it’s actually more private. We don’t even know your address.”
What Happens to Purse If Amazon Takes Bitcoin Directly?
DeRose also asked Lee what would happen to Purse in a scenario where Amazon decided to accept bitcoin directly.
“I don’t think people shop on Purse because they don’t have access to Amazon,” replied Lee. “They shop on Purse because there’s a discount . . . My sense is that if Amazon were to accept bitcoin, that’d be huge, international news. And as a result, we’d get quite a PR bump from that.
In short, Purse’s selling point doesn’t rely on bitcoin; it mainly relies on the discounts they’re able to enable through their bitcoin and gift card trading engine. If Amazon decided to accept bitcoin, the discounts offered on Purse would still be attractive to consumers.