American Express has made a major push into mobile payments with a new product called ‘Serve.’ Described as a “digital payment and commerce platform,” 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 available as an app on both the Apple iOS and Android platforms and can also be accessed via a dedicated website (serve.com) and via Facebook. Funds can be added from bank accounts, debit cards, credit and charge cards, or other Serve accounts. “Serve is a new type of payment platform that isn’t tied to a single card or mobile operating system,” said Amex’s Dan Schulman. “It’s a flexible, easy to use platform, which from day one brings tremendous assets to the alternative payments space and gives consumers an option to shop on-line and off-line at millions of merchants who accept American Express.”
The new platform is based on technology built by Revolution Money, a firm acquired by Amex early last year. The service is initially available in the US and is expected to launch in international markets over the coming year. To stimulate early usage, Amex is waiving “most” transaction fees for the first six months. After this point, it will cost 2.9 percent plus US$0.30 per load to transfer money to a Serve account (discounted to 0 percent for cash, debit and ACH), while ATM cash withdrawals will cost US$2 (though the first one each month is free). Amex has already signed-up a number of merchant partners which will use the platform to deliver special offers, including Ticketmaster, Concur and Flipswap.