Amazon Boss Says Firm Is Not Close to Crypto Payments

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  • Amazon CEO Andy Jassy says the company won't add crypto payments any time soon, although it might sell NFTs at some point in the future.
  • A number of major retailers are eyeing crypto payment options.
  • Buy-and-hold investors may not want to pay with crypto.

It's unlikely you'll be able to pay with crypto on Amazon in the near future, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Cryptocurrency payments aren't likely to be an option at Amazon checkout any time soon, though the retail giant might eventually sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Several major retailers are investigating the benefits of crypto payments, but there are some issues investors should be aware of.

Amazon and crypto

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy spoke to CNBC following his first annual shareholder letter since he replaced Jeff Bezos at the helm. He said he doesn't own any Bitcoin (BTC), though he was optimistic about the future of crypto. "We’re probably not close to adding crypto as a payment mechanism in our retail business, but I do believe over time that you’ll see crypto become bigger," he said.

Jassy was particularly positive about NFTs. NFTs are a kind of digital ownership certificate for all kinds of items, including art, collectibles, music, video, in-game items and more. The NFT market took off last year and the CEO foresees further growth in this sector. He said it was possible that at some point in the future Amazon may sell NFTs on its platform.

Last July, the crypto rumor mill was awash with speculation that Amazon might accept Bitcoin payments. This was the result of a company job posting for a Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead and quotes from an inside source in a London newspaper. However, the retail giant was quick to quash the gossip. It said it had no specific crypto plans and the speculation simply wasn't true.

It looks as if Amazon continues to watch the space, but any crypto enthusiasts hoping to use their assets to pay on the e-commerce behemoth will have to wait.

Paying with crypto

Amazon's not the only retailer that's been the subject of crypto speculation. A Walmart trademark filing earlier this year hinted at potential metaverse ambitions. eBay's CEO recently said the company was deeply considering crypto payments. Plus, Europe's biggest department store chain, El Corte Inglés, teamed up with Deloitte to offer crypto exchange services to its customers.

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Additional ways to pay with crypto are one facet of the increasing levels of mainstream adoption we've seen in recent years. It's not only Bitcoin, as several crypto payment options have emerged. Some boast speedier transaction times and lower transaction costs than the crypto granddaddy. The rise of GovCoins or central bank digital currencies may also muddy the waters. Retailers may opt to accept these centralized digital payments instead of decentralized and volatile cryptos.

However, for investors, the prospect of crypto payments is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, increased adoption is crucial if Bitcoin -- or another cryptocurrency -- is to achieve its potential as a future global digital currency. Plus, many believe cryptocurrency could offer people who don't have easy access to bank accounts an alternative form of payment and way to transfer money.

On the other hand, most buy-and-hold investors don't want to spend their crypto. The idea is to hold it for the long term, which is why some see Bitcoin as a type of digital gold. Plus, paying with crypto could also have tax implications. When you spend your cryptocurrency, it's a taxable event -- just as if you'd sold that asset. Investors and spenders need to watch out for cryptocurrency taxes to avoid unexpected bills at tax time.

Bottom line

The idea of cryptocurrency payments is an exciting one. Some people, such as Block's Jack Dorsey believe that Bitcoin could be the currency of the future. Every retailer that accepts crypto payments is a step closer to that dream.

However, it's an evolving space and there are a lot of questions to address. Amazon's hesitant approach reflects the complex nature of these types of transactions. There could be benefits, but we've still got a long way to go.

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