RealTime IT News

Ah, the Sound of Plastic Being Authorized

Just in time for those holiday shopping sprees, e-tail giant Amazon.com teamed up with Bank One to roll out the Amazon.com Platinum Visa card as part of a long-term alliance.

Meanwhile, the company's CEO, Jeff Bezos, apparently is moving to patent the process used in the company's Amazon Honor System, which offers a payment system that allow Web sites to solicit small donations from visitors or charge for content on a pay-per-view basis.

Seattle-based Amazon said that people who use the new credit card at its retail site before Nov. 15 will earn themselves a $20 promotional certificate toward a future Amazon.com purchase.

The new card also carries a points-based promotion, in which cardholders accumulate three points for every dollar spent at Amazon and one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Each time cardmembers accumulate 2,500 points, they will get a $25 certificate to use at Amazon.com.

Last year, Amazon launched a virtual credit card -- a private label virtual card product called the Amazon Credit Account - in deal with Citi Commerce Solutions, a division of Citibank Cards.

Details on the new card offer, which carries a 0 percent APR for six months (and as low as 8.9 percent later) are available here.

As for the recently disclosed patent applications, they involve Amazon's Honor System, which is designed to allow other Web sites to collect payments as small as $1. It ties into Amazon's already patented one-click payment feature. A list of participants in the program, including a lot of nonprofits, is shown here.

The patent applications, filed in August of last year, can be seen here and here. They list Bezos as one of the inventors.

Amazon, of course, gets a chunk from users of the Honor System and says in its FAQ that: "The fee schedule is very simple. The person making a payment is not charged any fees at all. The person receiving a payment is assessed 15% of the total payment per transaction plus $.15."

The Amazon Honor System was launched in February of 2001.

At the time, Bezos was quoted as saying that the purpose of the system is let Web users support the sites they like, as "people are realizing that even the best Web sites need new sources of revenue to flourish."

The patent applications, which list a number of other individuals as co-inventors, are for "a network-based payment service (that) provides various features for facilitating online, user-to-user payments." They go on to say that "one particular application for the pay box feature is to provide a mechanism for compensating creators of digital content."

The applications also list Alan Caplan, vice president of Amazon's payment services, as one of the inventors. "This is a product where Amazon is taking some of its key strengths, seeing a market and filling it," Caplan was quoted as saying at the time the Honor System was launched.