Payments in the cloud

I was recently looking through the Amazon developer documentation and came across the Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS).  I’m neither a cloud naysayer nor a cloud crusader.  I’ve seen the value of creating solutions on virtual, scalable hardware and this is a big advantage — but I’ve seen it as more evolution than revolution.

Amazon has been innovating with their cloud services for awhile and their solutions are maturing from both a capability and from an architecture perspective.  They now offer utility based database, compute, message queueing, billing, notifications, work with large data sets and process payments.

One could draw a very sophisticated enterprise application architecture entirely with Amazon’s components.  When it comes to payments some of the challenges such as authentication, trust, anti-fraud, non repudiation, and regulatory compliance are handled by Amazon leaving the developer to build the business model and payment logic.

Scenarios such as payment aggregation, payment brokering, standing orders, p2p are all possible with this platform.  The simplicity of the platform offers flexibility and business model innovation without the typical capital investment normally required in this domain.

This is not a service that is designed for banks to adopt in replacing legacy payments platforms.  This is a platform for conceptual innovation intended to further establish Amazon as a cloud leader and a trusted intermediary in money movement.

Amazon is not the only firm that has moved payments into the cloud: PayPal offers comparable features as part of their platform. Both platforms seem comparable from a functionality perspective while the Amazon solution provides more of a cloud ecosystem (compute, data, etc.) and PayPal is focused on exposing their payment platform.

The amount of sophistication available is impressive but what is more profound is how low the barriers to entry are.  I just created a global processing cluster in ten minutes.. All fully scaleable and resilient..  Exciting times indeed!

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