Users will be able to send or receive money from their Serve accounts, which can be funded by a bank account, debit or credit card, or by money from another Serve account. With the new AmEx digital payment system, consumers will be able to make payments via the Serve website, via their mobile phones, and with merchants who accept American Express cards. Accounts will be accessible via Android and iPhone apps and through Facebook.
The aim, says the charge card company, is to expand into new segments of the market that do not rely on credit cards or cash.
According to American Express' Dan Schulman, "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."
Wooing Customers Away from PayPal
The lack of fees might be a good way to lure new customers, but AmEx says those fees won't be high after that initial six month period. Customers will be charged for putting money into their Serve accounts - 2/9% plus a $0.30 per load - and will be charged for ATM cash withdrawals - $2 after one free withdrawal per month.
The move of both Visa and American Express to start offering these P2P online payments is a clear indication that credit card companies are recognizing that online payments are reshaping financial transactions. As both of these giants gun for what has long been PayPal's market, it will be interesting to watch if the competition makes things better for consumers, who will now have more choices in how they can send and receive money online.