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American Express makes mobile payments available to millions of customers

March 29, 2011

American Express unveiled its Serve digital payment and commerce platform that offers person-to-person, online, mobile and traditional card capabilities in a single account.
Serve gives American Express customers a new way to spend and receive funds. The new service unifies multiple payment options into a single account that can be funded from a bank account, debit, credit or charge card, or by receiving money from another Serve account.
“This is something we have been thinking about for some time,” said David Messenger, executive vice president and general manager of online and mobile at American Express, New York.
“The payments landscape is changing and it is evolving to include digital payments,” he said. “We want to play a leading role there. And so, we have established a digital payments platform that is open and it opens up new segments for us.
“What is most interesting is that the new service serves both online and offline transactions. We are coming to a point where there is a blurring of online and offline. The digital payments we’ve launched enable both.”
Serve targets American Express customers who currently rely on cash, check and debit card. Serve accounts can be accessed via Apple and Android applications, at and through Facebook.
Mr. Messenger said that through Serve, American Express aims to expand into new segments of the market that do not rely on traditional charge and credit cards to manage their day-to-day finances.
How it works

Consumers set up an online account at or through a smartphone app. 
Funds can be added from bank accounts, debit cards, credit and charge cards, or other Serve accounts.
Customers can use those accounts to send and receive money to friends, pay bills and makepurchases online.
Serve bridges online and offline commerce – each customer will be issued a Serve reloadable prepaid card linked to their Serve account that can be used at any merchant or ATM that accepts American Express cards.
The newpayments platform evolved from technology obtained through the acquisition of Revolution Money in early 2010.
It is immediately available to anyone in the U.S. and is expected to launch into other international markets over the coming year.
American Express will continue to evolve the features and functionality of Serve based on market feedback.

While payments are the foundation of the Serve platform, American Express is also announcing a number of partners who will use the platform to deliver relevant offers that drive spend and build loyalty.
Three of the first partners are Ticketmaster, Concur and Flipswap.
Ticketmaster will offer Serve as a platform for customers to make and collect payments toward ticket purchases from other customers.
Concur will use Serve as an expense management and reimbursement method for transactions processed via Concur’s small business expense reporting service, Concur Breeze.
Flipswap will use Serve to issue refunds more quickly to consumers who sell or trade in their old mobile and cell phones for reuse or recycling.
“It is a great opportunity for American Express customers and for businesses that are now able to serve up relevant offers,” Mr. Messenger said.
“We are really exited to launch this today and we have more product enhancements and partnerships that will come next,” he said. “This platform is live today and they can sign up quickly an easily.
“It is live and works in the real world and in millions of establishments whereAmerican Express. A lot of the competition is talking about what they will do. This is already available to millions of consumers.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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