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Amazon trials video conference software to verify seller identities

Amazon is attempting to cut down on fraud by tightening third-party seller requirements.

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Amazon has revealed a pilot program that utilizes video conferencing software to vet new third-party sellers hoping to join the platform. 

The "enhanced vetting" process, as reported by GeekWire, has been tested over this year in countries including the US, UK, Japan, and China.

Originally, the pilot involved face-to-face meetings, but as social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 outbreak has made this difficult, video conferencing software has become an alternative vetting method. 

See also: Report: Amazon Prime Day postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic

Amazon Chime, a video call platform, is an enterprise pay-by-use option for video conferencing and alternative to rival services such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Naturally, Amazon is using its own product to conduct the verification calls, of which Amazon representatives check a seller against proof of ID and documents that have been provided to the tech giant. 

Amazon staff perform the checks. The company has now confirmed the existence of the pilot program and says that biometric technology is not used during verification. 

Existing, machine learning (ML)-based automatic verification checks block accounts suspected of being fraudulent. In 2019, Amazon blocked approximately 2.5 million accounts believed to be generated by fraudsters. 

An Amazon spokesperson told the publication that the pilot "allows us to connect one-on-one with prospective sellers while making it even more difficult for fraudsters to hide."

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The size of the program has not been disclosed and it is not known if the pilot will be rolled out to other countries. 

Amazon has fought fraud on its platform since its inception, but due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the battle has recently ramped up a notch. Unscrupulous sellers are seeking to cash in on infection fears, touting everything from coronavirus 'protective' masks, remedies, and sanitizing gels, listed on the marketplace with both misleading claims and high prices. 

While the pilot program may not make a huge difference in the current circumstances, taking sellers out of the equation that are likely to commit fraud can only improve the platform over time. 

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In related news, Amazon is mulling over the possibility of postponing Prime Day, one of the biggest and most profitable shopping events on the company's calendar. 

Amazon is already facing capacity and delivery challenges due to the closure of fulfillment centers due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As many of us are now relying on online shopping rather than visiting brick-and-mortar stores -- now closed to aid social distancing measures -- this has resulted in increased demand at the same time, and so the idea of a sales event, usually launched in July, may no longer be commercially feasible. 

Reports suggest that Prime Day may be delayed until August

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