Move over, Google Wallet and PayPal. Another mobile-payment option has entered the market. Verizon Wireless has inked a deal with American Express to advance its mobile-payment strategy.
American Express and Verizon are integrating Serve, a next-generation digital payment and commerce platform, on Verizon phones and tablets. In a few months, the partnership will give Verizon customers the option of setting up Serve accounts that pave the way for mobile payments, as well as to redeem offers for goods and services directly from mobile phones and tablets.
"Serve provides a quick and intuitive way for our customers to use their mobile service in a refreshingly convenient way," said Greg Haller, president of enterprise and government for Verizon. He said Verizon is committed to building a mobile ecosystem for its customers, and Serve is one element.
Redeeming Mobile Coupons
Here's what you need to know about Serve: The technology works to simplify the online checkout experience by authenticating a mobile number, then allowing a customer to make a purchase on-screen.
Practically speaking, Verizon customers who use Serve can expect to buy goods and services on their mobile phone in just a few clicks. And merchants who accept Serve mobile payments are promised a streamlined option for processing and settlement. Merchants that accept American Express also accept the Serve card.
American Express and Verizon will also collaborate to source, distribute and simplify redemption of online and mobile offers with participating merchants through the use of the Serve account. In one example the companies offered, customers can redeem certain offers or coupons using their mobile phones, and the credit automatically appears in their Serve account.
Finally, the strategic alliance is reaching out to Payfone to support Serve checkout on Verizon devices. Payfone's pre-authorization and intelligent-routing features will help Verizon customers who use Serve to make payments securely.
With Google Wallet, PayPal Mobile, and other competitors vying for a share of the mobile-payments wallet, analysts said the playing field is bound to get even more competitive. The potential is real. PayPal expects its mobile-payment service to broker $3 billion worth of mobile payments in 2011.
"People have been talking about the so-called phone as a digital wallet for nearly a decade," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. "Now, you have enough of the technology pieces falling into place that it's a reality. Like everything else, it will come down to standards and competition and who gets aligned with who, so this is a reality for all consumers."
In the same way that standards emerged for credit cards over time, Gartenberg said the mobile payments space is still in the early stages. That, he said, is why the mobile payments landscape is seeing so many partnerships.
"This particular agreement is great if you are American Express and Verizon customer," Gartenberg said. "If you are a MasterCard user on Sprint, it's not going to do much good for you right now, but we'll see more of these deals come into place and more standards as both the technology and consumer awareness and acceptance grow."