Amazon holds credit card lists for stores in the Middle East

‘Shoeaholics’ named on lists of payment card uses by Amazon – while it plays hardball with Visa

Consumers in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa are being caught in the middle of a dispute between Visa and Amazon, after Amazon issued lists of payment cards it said would be used for shopping on its Indian website.

Visa hit back on Wednesday, criticising Amazon for issuing what it said were unfair lists of payment cards, and for recommending that shoppers use Indian pay bank cards such as Axis Bank and ICICI Bank.

“We’re extremely disappointed that Amazon has unilaterally made these unilateral changes to its website and customers,” it said in a statement.

“We strongly urge Amazon to reverse these decisions and give customers choices and choices only on Visa-issued cards.”

Amazon said on Monday it would stop accepting cards issued by American Express and Mastercard by the end of March, without offering any explanation for its decision.

Mastercard said it was “monitoring this situation closely and we will review our next steps to protect our brand and our customers”. American Express did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon said it had restricted new purchase offers to payment-card networks that supported its product refresh programme.

“So customers who want to shop for fresh and discounted products on Amazon’s India website will no longer see offers from cards that are not approved under our refreshed payments guidelines,” it said.

The World Bank says the number of middle-class Indians rose by a fifth to more than 600 million between 2004 and 2015. That rapid expansion has brought with it a rapidly growing middle class eager to shop for clothes, shoes and home furnishings.

Consumers found on lists compiled by one seller on Amazon were identified by comparison sites based on their mailing addresses. These included shoaholics from Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, South Africa, and Ethiopia, the centres said.

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