So far 23 million Amazon customers have used Amazon Payments in transactions with other merchants.

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LAS VEGAS — When reorganized its electronic wallet tool as a stand-alone business in 2014, it was raising its bid in a field crowded by big hitters, from banks to Google, Apple and PayPal. Not to count ambitious startups like Square and even coffee purveyor Starbucks.

Now, 18 months into the experiment, Amazon Payments has carved out some space of its own.

Amazon Payments enables shoppers to buy at other merchants’ websites using the payment information stored in their Amazon account. Its main constituency are the small- and mid-sized merchants that see in Amazon’s handling of their cash register an assurance to their customers that their information is safe.

For these merchants, it’s also a source of new customers loyal to Amazon’s brand. So far, 23 million out of Amazon’s more than 300 million customers have made a transaction with Amazon Payments, says Patrick Gauthier, the executive in charge of the unit.

“Payment is a commodity, trust is not,” Gauthier said in an interview on the sidelines of Shoptalk, a gathering of e-commerce executives in Las Vegas. “The capacity to identify the customer in order to meet their needs will never be a commodity,” he said.

Then there’s the inherent power of the Amazon brand. To achieve the 23 million figure “we haven’t had to spend a single dime in marketing,” Gauthier said.

Amazon has also been signing up larger customers as well. In recent months Southwest Airlines, one of the biggest U.S. air carriers, said passengers can pay for movies with their Amazon account. Amazon Payments has even ventured into the brick-and-mortar world, as luxury fashion store Moda Operandi can charge its in-store clients with Amazon Payments.

To be sure, Amazon, despite its heft — and perhaps because of it — faces significant challenges. It’s a late starter coming into a field where it’s hard to distinguish yourself, says James Wester, an analyst with consultancy IDC. “It’s competitive and margins are very, very tight,” Wester said. “It’s hard to make a lot of money.”

Furthermore, many of the small and medium businesses Amazon seeks to bring into its fold see the Seattle tech and retail behemoth as their most dangerous competitor, and many may hesitate to turn in some of their most precious data — their customers’ transactions — to a juggernaut that they might perceive could later use it to eat their lunch, Wester says.

Amazon’s Gauthier, a veteran of PayPal and Visa, seeks to dispel that perception. Amazon does not use the transaction data gathered by Amazon Payments, he says, for anything other than customer service or helping the merchants.

It’s not a new situation for Amazon, a tech and retail titan so diverse that the clients of some of its businesses — cloud-computing unit Amazon Web Services, for example — are some of its fiercest retail rivals.

IDC’s Wester says Amazon, for being a late starter, has gained some significant ground in the payment business, as it brings to the table some key advantages, including one-click shopping and a universe of hundreds of millions of customers.

Gauthier says that from Amazon’s point of view, the payments platform allows its customers to buy what they want wherever they want, ultimately deepening Amazon’s own relationship with these shoppers.

The strengthening of that bond “does not have to come at the expense of another retailer,” he said.

Amazon to add food to brand items

NEW YORK — Amazon is planning to expand the store-brand items it sells to new categories including food and household products, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The new products could include nuts and spices and other consumer goods such as diapers and laundry detergent. The Wall Street Journal report cites unnamed people familiar with the matter. Inc. declined to comment.

Amazon already sells an array of private-label products, or products designed by a third-party manufacturer and sold under a retailer’s name — usually cheaper than name-brand products — but food would be a new category.

Information in this article, originally published on May 16, 2016, was corrected on May 17, 2016. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that an e-commerce executives’ gathering was named ShopTalk. The correct spelling is Shoptalk.