American Express Enters Digital Payments Market

The mobile payments market is heating up, with everyone getting in the game such as Google’s Near Field Communications (NFC) support in Android, PayPal’s mobile app, and now American Express’ new Serve.com app for iPhone and Android phones. Serve.com is a digital payment service from American Express that provides person-to-person electronic money transfers, mobile payments, in-store card payments, and online transactions.

You can set up a free account either through the Serve.com mobile app or online. I recommend doing the initial set up using a desktop computer and web browser, because when I set up my account from my phone I fat-fingered entering the security answer and I was unable to reproduce what I had typed. You do not have a way to see the password or the security answer on the phone. The Serve.com helpdesk was able to help me get the correct security answer, but we discovered that the Android app does not provide a way to access your account settings. Fortunately, I was able to access the account from my PC and change my answer.

Serve.com works very much like PayPal, to use it you need to associate your Serve.com account with another bank account or credit card. You then add money from either one of these accounts to your Serve account. You do not need to set up the link to receive money, but you do need to link it in order to send money. In order for a person to receive money that you send to them using Serve.com, they must have a Serve.com account.

One difference between Serve.com and PayPal is that Serve.com provides a pre-paid American Express card, which you can use to make payments at any place that accepts American Express. The amount on the card is equivalent to the amount you have in your Serve.com account. American Express is partnering with businesses to directly receive digital payments thru Serve.com, and their launch partners include Ticketmaster, Concur, and Flipswap.