American Express (Amex) has made another move to strengthen its standing in the mobile payments space, reportedly investing in New York-based start-up Payfone. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Amex will today confirm it is leading a US$19 million investment round in Payfone. The start-up has already received backing from the venture-capital arms of Verizon Communications and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion. The deal is thought to pave the way for Payfone to use Amex’s recently unveiled software platform, Serve, which was launched last month. The PayPal-like service will allow consumers to make purchases and person-to-person (P2P) payments online, via mobile phones, and at merchants that accept Amex cards. Serve is based on technology from Revolution Money, a firm that Amex acquired last year.
“We are looking to go beyond the typical Amex franchise to people who may not be able to utilise credit cards or charge cards or may not want to,” Amex’s Dan Schulman told the newspaper. Schulman – formerly of Sprint Nextel – was hired by Amex last year to lead the company’s expansion into alternative forms of payment. Amex declined to specify the size of its Payfone investment, noting only that it is the largest investor in the US$19 million financing. It is the second round of financing for Payfone, which raised US$11 million last summer. Other investors include Opus Capital, an early-stage venture-capital fund.