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AmEx looks to prepaid card to gain competitive edge

American Express is pushing a new brand, Serve, in order to compete against the array of new digital-payment services that have launched in recent years.

The Serve name can be found on American Express’ new prepaid card. It is different from the company’s other cards because it doesn’t include a line of credit that allows a customer to hold a balance, WSJ.com reports.

The core of the service is a digital platform that allows customers to transfer money to other users and to make purchases online and on smartphones. Customers are able to load their Serve accounts with checking accounts, debit cards and credit cards, as well as with cash.

American Express gained access to Serve technology with its 2010 acquisition of payments company Revolution Money, according to WSJ.com.

American Express has been actively working to expand its customer base this year as most other credit card issuers have limited their lending standards.

Serve, the company hopes, will attract customers who don't meet its underwriting standards for a credit or charge card.

"There's a large segment of the population that would love to be an American Express customer but for whatever reason felt they couldn't qualify and therefore didn't apply, or did apply and just didn't have the credit history to be able to do that," Dan Schulman, a former Sprint Nextel executive who joined American Express in 2010, said, WSJ.com reports.

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