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Amazon reportedly has a ‘key’ to thousands of apartment buildings in US

Amazon reportedly has a ‘key’ to thousands of apartment buildings in US


Said to be using gift cards to incentivise buildings to install its Key for Business system

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A promotional image for Amazon Key for Business.
A promotional image for Amazon Key for Business.
Image: Amazon

Amazon’s Key for Business, a system that allows its delivery drivers to gain access to apartment buildings without having to be buzzed in, has been installed in thousands of buildings across the US, according to the Associated Press. The company is reportedly pushing to get the system installed in more buildings, using a combination of free installations and $100 gift cards as incentives. 

The system is designed to make it easier for Amazon’s drivers to make deliveries to apartment buildings. Rather than having to be buzzed in by residents or a concierge, a driver can use the system to gain temporary access to lobbies via the Amazon Flex app. Then packages can be delivered directly to residents or safely left behind in a mail room or with a doorman. In a technical breakdown of the system published in 2019, Amazon says in a pilot program the system increased the success of first time deliveries from 96 to around 98 percent. 

Building managers reportedly don’t have to tell tenants about the system

The technology arrived as a pilot in 2018 before getting an official launch the following year. But unlike a similar system from Amazon for homeowners to install in private properties, Key for Business is installed by building managers who reportedly aren’t under any obligation to tell their tenants when the system is in use. This raises potential security concerns for residents about an internet-connected entry device that gives drivers, vetted by Amazon, easy access to their buildings.

Amazon is reportedly pushing hard to expand the number of buildings the system is installed in. According to the Associated Press, it’s pitching Key for Business to building managers and partnering with locksmiths to offer installations, sometimes free of charge. A spokesperson from Amazon was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment from The Verge, and declined to confirm a total number of installations to AP

As well as making deliveries easier and potentially quicker, the system may give Amazon’s delivery drivers a competitive advantage over its rivals. Buildings are unlikely to install similar systems for multiple delivery companies, ultimately incentivizing their residents to use Amazon.