Amazon.com Inc. is tapping into bill payments by letting customers use its Amazon Pay feature for their utility bills.
The e-commerce giant said during a Sunday keynote at the Money 20/20 financial technology conference that it would be partnering with fintech company Paymentus to add the feature, which will allow customers to pay online or else by voice using Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
Prior to the announcement, Amazon Pay Vice President Patrick Gauthier told MarketWatch that the company saw an opportunity in bill payments as about 70% of consumers don’t enroll in automatic payments. The new feature will allow users to get notifications through Alexa when their bills are due and to ask questions about the bill amount or how it compares with prior ones.
PayPal Holdings Inc. , a rival to Amazon in payments, announced its own bill-pay partnership with Paymentus earlier this year.
Amazon expects to be able to reach 95% of ZIP codes with its feature by the end of the year. Consumers may learn about bill-pay availability through Amazon or through a supported utility company, Gauthier said, and they then will be able to connect their accounts. He argued that the function could be valuable for utility companies that often receive calls from customers asking basic information about bill amounts.
Amazon has been building out the capabilities of its payments button, which lets users pay not only on the e-commerce giant’s own site, but also on those of other retailers that have added the button. The company first embedded the payment function within Alexa in 2017, and added ability to make charitable donations through Amazon Pay and Alexa in 2018.
Consumers are still warming to the idea of payments through a voice command, but Gauthier sees room for Amazon to ultimately expand into other types of bill pay, including phone bills, cable bills and insurance. “There’s good opportunity across a range of things that people pay for on a recurring basis,” he said. “What I know we can do in a very unique way is to integrate the power of voice and AI into this.”
Amazon shares have gained 17% so far this year, as the S&P 500 has risen 21%.