Through a partnership with Citigroup Inc., Amazon.com began extending credit to its customers recently by offering what the online merchant calls a "cardless" private-label account.

Rene M. Pelegero, Amazon's director of global payments, said the new payment option was meant to "complement" the cobranded Visa card it offers through NextCard Inc. (The four-year-old monoline issuer in San Francisco announced that it had put itself up for sale after admitting severe fraud losses.)

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