Amazon's cash payment option PayCode launches in the US

PayCode lets shoppers pay for online purchases in cash at Western Union locations.

Amazon is bringing its cash-based checkout payment option PayCode to the US and adding more retail locations where users can go to load Amazon Cash balances. The e-commerce giant announced Wednesday that it's teaming with Western Union to utilize its more than 15,000 money wiring locations to let customers pay for Amazon purchases with cash. 

PayCode and Amazon Cash are the company's way of capturing business from large unbanked and underbanked populations -- meaning people who can't afford or don't have access to mainstream financial services that make electronic purchases possible. 

According to the FDIC, a significant portion of the US still relies on cash. A study from 2017 found that 8.4 million households were unbanked, meaning that no one in the household had a checking or savings account. Another nearly 24.2 million households were underbanked.

As for PayCode, the service lets shoppers pay for online purchases in cash at Western Union locations. 

When an order is placed online and the PayCode payment option is selected, shoppers receive a code that they show to a Western Union agent, along with identification, to complete their purchase. Amazon gives a 24-hour window for shoppers to pay for their order and then ships the order within the standard shipping window.

Similar to PayCode, Amazon Cash is a service that makes Amazon's e-commerce business more accessible to those without a credit or debt card. To use Amazon Cash, a customer gets a barcode from Amazon, which is accessible either via text message or by printing it out. They can take that barcode to a participating store and use it to add cash to their Amazon balance via the cashier. Amazon said there are now over 100,000 participating Amazon Cash stores nationwide, including CVS Pharmacy, Western Union, GameStop, 7-11 and RiteAid Pharmacy. 

PayCode initially launched earlier this year in 10 global markets and eventually expanded to 19 countries around the world including the US.