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Amex's Digital Wallet Goes to China

  |  January 18, 2012   |  Comments

The move builds on credit giant's plays with mobile apps like Foursquare, Seamless, and Scvngr.

While Capital One ads have been asking consumers "What's in your wallet?" for the last several years, it's increasingly clear American Express wants to know what's in your smart phone.

In the latest in a string of intriguing mobile moves by Amex, the company today announced plans to let China-based Lianlian Group utilize Serve, the credit card giant's digital wallet platform. According to TechCrunch, Amex will also pour $125 million into Lianlian to jumpstart the digital wallet initiative with the Chinese firm's 300 million customers.

Dan Schulman, group president of enterprise growth for New York-based Amex, said in a prepared release: "By leveraging Serve into its infrastructure, Lianlian Group will be well positioned to enable consumers to bridge the gap between the limitation of paying with cash and the opportunities associated with digital commerce."

Amex will open a new office in Hangzhou, China with a team providing technical and consulting support to Lianlian. The office will be headed by Matthew Lee, who once served as First Data's CEO for China.

Amex Continues Foursquare Rebates, Partners with Seamless

push-notification-digital-wallets-storyLast month, Amex rewarded consumers who synced their credit cards with their Foursquare accounts with $10 back if they spent the same at local businesses after checking in with the geo-social app. That effort followed up a successful post-Black Friday promotion dubbed "Small Business Saturday," when Amex users checking in on Foursquare could get a $25 credit if they spent $25 with a local merchant. Now, Amex is offering $5 back to Foursquare users who spend $24 at selected restaurants, bars, and other retail shops after checking in on the app.

Here's how the Amex-Foursquare marriage works for consumers:

    • Sync Amex card with Foursquare account online.
    • Check in at a location.
    • Tap a "redeem offer" button.
    • Pay with Amex card.
    • Get a Foursquare push notification about the money-back reward (see image) within moments after the card is swiped by the merchant.

And five weeks ago, Amex struck a partnership with restaurants food delivery platform Seamless. Consumers can receive a $10 statement credit for every four orders of $15 or more - using Amex for payment, of course - that they place on Seamless.com or the Seamless smart phone app. They can accrue up to $120 in Amex statement credits until October 31, 2012.

Ryan Scott, Seamless marketing VP, said the Amex initiative has already proven popular with his New York-based company's 1 million registered users. "Many of our existing customers are American Express Cardmembers and immediately took advantage of the exclusive Seamless offer," he told ClickZ News today via email.

New Year Should Continue An Active 2011 for Digital Wallets

2012 promises to be a busy year on the digital wallets front. Here's a summary of noteworthy developments by Amex and others last year:

  • March/April: Groupon and LivingSocial launch "GrouponNow" and "Instant Deals", respectively, which allow consumers to buy time-sensitive offers with one click on their smart phones. To use the mobile commerce feature, users need to input their credit cards into their daily deals accounts.
  • May 9: Scvngr struck a partnership with Amex to make redeeming LevelUp deals easier for consumers. Amex members who buy the deals need only use their cards while making a purchase to get the discount.
  • May 26: Google introduced Google Wallet, which lets consumers pay for Google Offers and other items through their Google account. The Wallet mobile app works with credit card users for Citi, MasterCard, and First Data.
  • Aug. 1: Verizon partnered with Amex to serve as the mobile carrier's digital wallet platform. The telecom was one of the first in its competitive space to create its own digital wallet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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