Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 2nd, 2009

PayPhrase Improves e-Commerce Speed and Security

Amazon Payments, a subsidiary of, announced this past Thursday a new way for online shoppers to authorize purchases without a username and password. The process is called PayPhrase, and it is an effort to simplify e-commerce and boost the appeal of its online payment platforms to merchants. With this new system, online shoppers can complete the checkout process using their Amazon preferred payment and shipping settings without sharing payment information across multiple websites.

This is wonderful news for the mental state of online shoppers. In a world where every website requires a unique username and password, it can be very difficult and frustrating to remember your login, let alone two dozen of them.

Someone who cannot remember their login usually has to click a “forget your password” link and then check their email, which re-directs them to a ‘change password’ site, in which a new password much pass a strength test, which requires the password to include punctuation and capitalization. (Exhale) If you keep your sensitive information the same across a variety of e-commerce sites and you get your identity stolen, you run the risk of it getting very nasty.

The keyword here is simplification. Each holiday season, more tech savvy folks finish their shopping online: no crowds, less gas burned, and purchased are delivered to you (ideally). Simplifying the purchase process will win many shoppers over this season. Here is how PayPhrase works: All you need is one phrase and a PIN to pay online. Using a customized phrase, such as “That Will Be All” or “I Love My Pets”, consumers using or any other website that accepts PayPhrase can quickly preview purchases and authorize the checkout process with a four-digit PIN. A user’s PayPhrase must be at least two words long, at least four characters, and cannot exceed 100 characters. No punctuation or numbers are allowed.

One of the setbacks for such a process is the phrase restrictions. PayPhrases cannot use trademarked terms or language that is “unlawful, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable...” PayPhrase can also not be used to purchase digital stuff, such as MP3s.

PayPhrase is a step towards a more shopper-friendly experience this holiday season. It will be very helpful for those families who need to shop online and can share PayPhrases and PINs with different members. You can also enable a pre-set spending limit per purchase and an optional approval process. Merchants that are planning on utilizing PayPhrase this holiday season are DKNY, Jockey, Patagonia,, J&R Electronics, and