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Make Amazon's Customers Your Customers (or Clients?)

That’s the come-on for the latest offering from Amazon.

Some people claim that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s insatiably driven CEO, is determined to conquer every market segment of the economy, one by one, and to do it by undercutting the existing price structure in that segment. While that’s probably a little overblown, Amazon does seem to offer almost any product you can think of these days at lower-than-market-leader-prices, so I wasn’t really surprised to hear that Amazon recently announced Amazon Payments, their move into the electronic payment processing market, and that they undercut many of their competitors’ prices in the process.

The part of the offering that will be of potential interest to lawyers is Amazon Local Register, a service that allows the processing of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit and debit cards via smartphone or tablet, with a current, set flat rate of 1.75% per swipe. They also boast of no monthly fees, no long term contract, no fee for chargebacks, no fee for refunds and no fee for international cards, and will guarantee the swipe rate through December 31 of next year if you sign up by October 31st. The rate is set to move to 2.5% beginning January 1, 2016, which is still below that currently charged by Square or by Intuit for QuickBooks users. The secure card reader needed for Amazon Register is $10, which they say they’ll credit against your first $10 in processing fees.

The bar offers a member benefit for credit/debit card merchant services through LawPay, which we believe is the best bet for lawyers because of features such as the ability to maintain one merchant account while directing charges to either your operating or trust account, as appropriate, and the assurance that neither chargebacks or fees will be processed against your trust account. But I can’t help but wonder whether Amazon’s move into this market will result in downward pressure on the rates all merchant account providers charge over the long run. And that would be good for everyone, lawyers included.