Today, American Express (NYSE: AXP) launched a new product, called Serve. Serve is based on the Revolution Money Platform acquired by American Express in 2010. What is Serve? According to an American Express webcast discussing the product, it’s a bunch of things, a veritable kitchen sink of payment technologies.
Dan Schulman, an American Express Group President, led an investor call today announcing the new Serve product, and introduced the Serve platform as a new way to “spend, send and receive money, both online and offline.” He also mentioned that the Serve product 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.”
So what does Serve do?
Serve seems to be a platform that combines the electronic wallet features of payment tools like PayPal, with the account access features of prepaid debit cards, and the money transfer features of products like MasterCard MoneySend or Obopay.
According to American Express, a customer can fund their Serve account from a number of different sources, including from a U.S. bank account, a debit card, or credit card account. Once the Serve account is funded, customers can send and receive money, and use the account to shop online. Funds can be withdrawn at ATM machines using a Serve prepaid debit card, which can also be used to make purchases at millions of retail locations that accept American Express cards.
American Express touts some of the account control features as allowing the Serve account to be used as a family card or business card. For example, parents who have a Serve account can set up rules and conditions for allowing teens (over 13 years old) to access and use funds. Business owners can use similar controls to allow employees to access and use funds in a controlled manner. Serve “subaccounts” can be used to instantly transfer money to others. Account owners can decide how money can be used, setting daily limits on transaction amounts, limiting their purchase capabilities and more.