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Amazon signals plans to expand in PayPal's backyard

With a new partnership program, Amazon Payments is hoping to find its way onto many more retailer websites.

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Amazon is trying to get more people to shop with it even when they aren't on Amazon.com.

In hopes of growing its young Amazon Payments business, the Seattle e-commerce giant on Monday introduced its new Global Partner Program, which provides tools and support for Amazon Payments to e-commerce services companies, such as Shopify, that help manage retailers' websites.

The program itself is another behind-the-scenes effort by Amazon to keep up growth in its payments platform, which started in 2013 and allows customers to make purchases around the Web using their Amazon log-ins.

Amazon remains a very small player in payments. For instance, the number of customers who have used the Pay with Amazon feature on other websites reached 23 million this year, a fraction of PayPal's roughly 170 million active accounts. But Amazon is pushing to get more notice in the area as it battles with PayPal, Visa and others for control of where and how customers pay for the things they want.

If Amazon can grow in payments, the company could make a little more money by taking a cut from each transaction, build up customer loyalty to its brand and get better data on how people are buying things.

For smaller businesses, letting customers pay with an Amazon log-in could improve sales, since shoppers don't like re-entering their payments information for new websites, especially on small smartphone screens. With nearly 300 million total Amazon customer accounts, that's a lot of potential shoppers.

However, there's a danger to partnering with Amazon and potentially providing one of their biggest competitors with more information on their customers and business. Retailers may be more comfortable partnering with PayPal or Visa, which don't run retail websites.

The new program, which is free for services companies, is available by invitation in the US, UK, Germany and Japan. Only five partners are listed in the program so far, including Shopify and OpenCart.