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Amazon is on a roll with its new ventures

The e-commerce giant continues to extend its already massive footprint

What a year 2019 has been for the e-commerce giant as it rolled out new products & services built on innovative platforms while extending its presence in the ecosystem. Perhaps the dark spot of the year was around privacy concerns of its home speaker system Alexa — where personal conversations were being heard by third party contractors. Amazon clarified that this was done to help improve Alexa’s human speech recognition for added efficiency & the user can opt-out of the system.

Amazon has a long list of achievements to showcase (below) last year, apart from holding onto its dominance in the Cloud computing market & working aggressively on its ambitious projects—space program Blue Origin & satellite beaming service Kuiper. Not to forget the earlier precedent set by Amazon to increase the minimum wage of its U.S workers to $15/hour.

  • Developed a new self-teaching AI, which is more accurate than the conventional algorithm at detecting human emotions in their commands when using Alexa.
  • Started trials of its electric delivery vehicle dubbed as the Amazon Scout in Southern California.
  • Debuted its delivery drone to speed up its delivery times for Prime members.
  • AWS launched its BaaS service made publicly available, called the Amazon Managed Blockchain (AMB).
  • Amazon in partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Berkshire Hathaway rolled out Haven Healthcare — health insurance plans for tens of thousands of their employees featuring wellness incentives & no deductibles.
  • Most recently, Amazon launched the Amazon Braket service — a cloud-based quantum computing service.

Things haven’t slowed down for Amazon as it has hit the ground running for the new year with its new initiatives.

Payment innovation

This is the most interesting of them all — Amazon wants your hand to function as a credit card when paying for things. The company wants to create retail checkout terminals that could work with the technology, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Although considered to be in the early stages of development, the e-commerce giant is said to have partnered with Visa to test out transactions, while discussing the prospects with the latter’s contemporary Mastercard & big banks like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

Apparently, Amazon has also filed for a patent application in which the payment system was described as a “non-contact biometric identification system” that includes “a hand scanner that generates images of a user’s palm.” Using biometric information for payment is a novel idea but at the same time comes with dangers of identity theft which can’t be changed like a password.

Amazon Pharmacy

The company has made some major moves in healthcare and this move could be part of its future expansion plans in the sector. It started moving into the health space in 2017 when it acquired online pharmacy PillPack — which specializes in delivering medicine to patients at home. Under the new brand for the company, it has filed for a trademark Amazon Pharmacy” in Canada, the U.K. & Australia.

While it may not mean an immediate expansion, the patent filed with Canadian Intellectual Property Office stated other potential areas for Pharmacy, including surgical and dental instruments and medical and veterinary preparations. Amazon-owned PillPack confirmed that it has also filed trademarks in Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, the EU, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, and the UAE.

Green initiative

World Economic Forum summit in Davos has been all about climate change, sustainable economic policies & green initiatives to save the World. Companies around the world are also coming around the idea of tackling this challenge at the micro & macro level. Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s CEO) made an important announcement in this regard on his current trip to India.

Apart from promising a $1 billion investment to help small business owners digitize their operations, Bezos announced that the company’s Indian wing will deploy 10,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2025, thus building a sustainable supply chain of operations, which will minimize adverse environmental impact and reduce dependence on non-renewable sources. This is also significant considering India has some of the most polluted cities in the World.

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