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Image credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

With Amazon Cash, you can shop online without a bank card

It opens the internet retailer to anyone with enough money in their pocket.
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Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Internet shopping is great, but most of it is off-limits if you don't have a credit or debit card. Unless you thrive on gift cards, you'll have to settle for whatever is in physical shops. Today, though, Amazon is removing that barrier. It's launching an Amazon Cash service that lets you apply cash toward your online account. It's a bit convoluted -- you have to visit a participating store, show a barcode (either on your phone or on paper) and fork over your money. There are no fees, however, and you can contribute between $15 to $500 at a time.

You can find your barcode both on the web and through Amazon's mobile apps, and there are shortcuts (such as a home screen icon or Apple's Wallet app) if you use it often.

The cash option is only available in the US and is limited to a handful of retailers (CVS and Speedway are among the examples). It's safe to say that Amazon's most direct competitors (Best Buy, for example) aren't about to cooperate. Still, it's a big deal for both Amazon and shoppers. As TechCrunch points out, more than a quarter of American consumers rely primarily or exclusively on cash. This lets Amazon reach a wider audience, and gives these cardless customers a chance to buy products that are either hard to get offline or more affordable than they are at retail. In other words, they won't be cut off from one of the internet's bigger advantages.

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