More than a decade since the creation of the prominent cryptocurrency, Amazon (AMZN) still does not give online shoppers the option to purchase products using bitcoin. Despite being the world's most famous digital currency, bitcoin has yet to be accepted on Amazon as a payment method. This comes as Overstock (OSTK) started accepting bitcoin in 2014.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin has been around now for more than a decade and has gained increased attention and adoption, yet Amazon still does not accept cryptocurrency as payment.
  • While the company has never stated why directly, there's plenty of speculations as to why—such as prioritizing payment agreements already in place or that it may launch its own digital currency.
  • People can still use bitcoin indirectly to make purchases from Amazon by using cryptocurrency to buy prepaid Amazon gift cards online.

Why Amazon Does Not Accept Bitcoin

There's no directly cited reason by Amazon, but plenty of speculation exists.

Volatility, Regulation

The price of bitcoin is more volatile than the price of many other government currencies accepted by Amazon, so there could be some challenges in pricing products. The uncertainty about future cryptocurrency regulation might also be keeping Amazon at bay, as might the difficulty of processing returns considering bitcoin's wild price fluctuations.

Current Agreements

It is possible that Amazon already has great deals in place with major credit card companies, such as Visa (V) and other payment processors. Smaller online retailers don't get such favorable conditions, which creates a competitive advantage for Amazon.

Bezos

One speculative theory is that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is not a fan of bitcoin, possibly because he is opposed to the unregulated and anonymous nature of the technology. This theory gained some traction after the Washington Post, a newspaper that Bezos owns, published a particularly critical article in January 2016 entitled, "R.I.P., Bitcoin. It's time to move on." However, this theory is purely speculative.

Digital Currency Rival

Another theory is that Amazon would like to eventually roll out its own digital currency. If that were the case, Amazon would likely avoid lending credibility to bitcoin, or open up its huge market to a competitor. Amazon already launched Amazon Coins in 2013 for games, apps, and in-app purchases.

El Salvador made bitcoin legal tender on June 9, 2021, making it the first country to do so. The U.S. dollar continues to be El Salvador’s primary currency.

Will Amazon Ever Accept Bitcoin?

In April 2014, Amazon indicated that it would not accept bitcoin because "we're not hearing from customers that it's right for them." A lot has changed since then and now bitcoin is a bit more accepted and used across the world.

For example, as of the start of 2020, roughly 36% of small-to-medium businesses in the U.S. accepted bitcoin. As well, many major companies have also started accepting bitcoin, including AT&T.

Thus, now that bitcoin is a bit more mainstream, does that mean Amazon will consider accepting it? In 2017 and 2018, Amazon fueled speculation that it was about to accept bitcoin when it purchased several cryptocurrency-related domain names.

More recently, in early 2021, Amazon posted on its job board, looking for employees to work on a digital currency project in Mexico. The project is meant to allow customers in emerging economies to convert their cash into digital currency.

As of July 2021, it does look like Amazon is at least entertaining a foray into crypto, whether that be accepting it or creating their own, that remains to be seen. In July 2021, Amazon posted a job listing for a Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead. This position will involve working on payments and lead the vision for Amazon’s Digital Currency and Blockchain roadmap said the listing. This lends itself toward Amazon considering the acceptance of cryptocurrency as payment or building its own digital currency. 

This job post piggybacks on the early 2021 job posts entertaining the idea of building a digital currency. Another alternative is that Amazon might be building out a blockchain for its supply business that would integrate with Amazon Web Services.

How to Make Amazon Purchases Using Bitcoin

Even though Amazon does not accept bitcoin, it does accept gift cards. Amazon digital gift cards act just like U.S. dollars and can be applied to all product purchases. Some gift card hubs, such as eGifter.com, Gyft, and BitPay, let you pay for their digital cards with bitcoin. This process adds a small step and expense, but it is the quickest workaround instead of a direct Amazon option.