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 March 28, 2011
American Express Unveils Serve, Next Generation Digital Payment Platform

 American Express has unveiled Serve, a digital payment and commerce platform that gives consumers a new way to spend, send and receive money with services that go beyond the existing global payment networks.

With Serve, consumers can make purchases and person-to-person (P2P) payments online (serve.com), via mobile phones, and at millions of merchants who accept American Express cards. Serve 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.

Serve is an easy-to-use, digital alternative aimed at consumers who currently rely on cash, check and debit card. Serve accounts can be accessed via Serve Apple iOS and Android applications, at Serve.com and through Facebook. 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.

"Serve is a new type of payment platform that isn't tied to a single card or mobile operating system. 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," said Dan Schulman, Group President, Enterprise Growth, American Express.

"We intend to quickly evolve the Serve platform by adding new features and functionality as we learn from consumer and merchant experiences. To encourage a broad cross-section of people to experience the benefits and convenience of Serve, we are working with a range of partners to integrate Serve as a payment method and deliver customized offers, and we will waive most consumer fees for the next six months," said Mr. Schulman.

How It Works

Consumers set up an online account at Serve.com 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 make purchases 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.

Unlike traditional debit card accounts, Serve offers users the ability to easily create, manage, and specify sub-accounts for their friends, family members or colleagues. Sub-accounts are linked to the master account and allow users to set spending profiles for everything from children's allowances to dog walker fees.

The Serve platform evolved from technology obtained through the acquisition of Revolution Money in early 2010.

Serve is available immediately 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. To gain consumer and merchant insights about Serve and to help shape upcoming releases, a marketing pilot will also be conducted in Eugene, Oregon.

Partnerships

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.

"A cornerstone of the long-term vision for Serve is developing partnerships with commerce, gaming, entertainment, and social networking organizations," said Mr. Schulman. Partnerships, with players such as Ticketmaster, Concur and Flipswap will introduce Serve to new customers and help build scale. These companies have loyal communities of customers, and we are thrilled to partner with them as we grow and expand Serve's reach."

Ticketmaster will offer Serve as a platform for customers to make and collect payments toward ticket purchases from other customers. Concur will utilize Serve as an expense management and reimbursement method for transactions processed via Concur's small business expense reporting service, Concur Breeze. Flipswap will utilize Serve to issue refunds more quickly to consumers who sell or trade in their old mobile and cell phones for reuse or recycling.

Details around these and a number of additional partnerships will be announced over the coming months.

Giving Back Widget

Serve is also partnering with five major charities -- Autism Speaks, Best Friends Animal Society, Malaria No More, Save The Children and Stand Up For Kids -- to enable each organization to raise funds via a donations widget. Widgets can be downloaded on Serve.com and at facebook.com/paywithserve, and shared on other Web sites, including Facebook, to encourage donations. Serve will match all contributions via the widget up to $100,000 for each charity.

In the coming months, Serve will offer selling widgets that give customers the ability to sell items through their own social networks.