Amazon Payments API Launches

John Musser, August 3rd, 2007

Amazon FPSIn one of the more significant API launches in awhile, Amazon just officially released their Flexible Payment Service, FPS. It’s a powerful payment service that supports credit cards, bank account debits, and Amazon Payments balance transfers. The service, in limited beta now, competes directly with the PayPal API, the Google Checkout API, and other payment APIs. You can see our new Amazon FPS profile here.

Some details from Jeff Barr’s introductory post:

In much the same way that S3 and EC2 allow developers to forget about leasing space in data centers, buying servers and negotiating for bandwidth, FPS shields developers from many of the messy and complex issues which arise when dealing with money. Once again, we take care of the “muck” and developers get to focus on being innovative and creative.

Designed specifically for developers, the “F” in FPS shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a very rich service — the API document is over 250 pages long.

FPS provides developers with a rule-based processing model. The FPS Gatekeeper system cross-checks the payment instructions from each party in order to confirm the validity of each transaction. Using this model you can create one-time or recurring transactions, transactions limited by date, by amount, or even by a list of authorized senders or recipients. You can even aggregate a slew of micro-payments into a single large transaction that’s of a reasonable size for credit card or other payment processing.

Since we’ve been processing payments for over ten years, we have a really good understanding of the cost and fee structures which are associated with each type of payment method. The cost to process a credit card, a bank account debit, or an Amazon Payments balance transfer differ greatly from each other. FPS exposes these fees directly, passing on the savings to the developer while also making provisions for the volume discounts available when large volumes of credit card payments are processed.

Pricing will certainly be a draw to developers as will the trust that Amazon has established with users, 69 million active users. As Jeff Barr notes, Amazon doesn’t have the ‘chicken-and-egg’ problem of getting a sizable customer base issue for starting a new payments service.

As a side note, it’s also worth quoting something else that Jeff Barr points-out: that Amazon’s services are inherently for commercial use without requiring any special agreements. This creates a better commercial long tail than many competing APIs and gives them scalability on the business side.

Our customer agreements have always been written so as to allow commercial use of our services, without the need to negotiate any special terms and conditions with us. This might seem like I am stating the obvious, but it isn’t; there are many interesting web services out there which cannot be used for commercial purposes without a special license.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing lots more about FPS.

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6 Responses to “Amazon Payments API Launches”

August 3rd, 2007
at 4:25 pm
Comment by: christophe

cool but not RESTful at all…

via Leonard Richardson –

August 3rd, 2007
at 5:40 pm
Comment by: Beyond Work

Amazon Flexible Payment Service, the online retail leader has launched a new payments service called Amazon Flexible Payment Service. Amazon FPS gives the developers the power of web services and the Trust to build payment solution for any type of online servic…

August 5th, 2007
at 11:22 pm
Comment by: Webreakstuff » Amazon does it again: Flexible Payments Service

[...] takes on this story by Robert, John Musser and Pete Cashmore. Noah [...]

September 24th, 2007
at 12:53 am
Comment by: Win $100K in New Amazon Contest

[...] the recent addition of the Amazon Flexible Payment Service (original news coverage here) we now have 12 Amazon Web Services [...]

August 9th, 2012
at 11:15 am
Comment by: The Little API Feature Amazon Wishes it Never Kickstarted

[...] Amazon Payments launched in 2007, we wrote that one of the upsides was that it allowed for commercial use without requiring [...]

August 23rd, 2012
at 9:39 am
Comment by: jeremey Smithson

Have you ever considered another company? is a great company to work with.

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John Musser
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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.