Earlier this week, American Express announced its first carrier deal for its Serve mobile payment platform. Sprint will make Serve's mobile wallet application available in the Sprint Zone for customers using select Android phones.
"Serve, which can be funded by a bank account, debit or credit card, or from another Serve account, does not require users to be American Express card holders," wrote Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb.com (July 18). "Instead, it's aimed at those who don't rely on credit cards. With Serve, customers can shop both online and offline, anywhere American Express is accepted.
"Serve can be used for either physical goods and services at local merchants, as well as online purchases. Sprint customers can even use Serve to pay their phone bill or to send money to friends, the company says."
At the first glance, I think this service is a worthy competitor versus the recently launched Google Wallet service, and also against competing mobile payments from other credit card companies and carriers (like AT&T).
What strikes me about this service is its target market. The main user group is people who dislike using credit cards. Typically, people dislike using credit cards due to the following concerns:
- Unintentional overspending
- Identity theft
The technology, Payfone, addresses these problems. The technology cross-references your phone number with your SIM card, and I.D. position to prevent illegal transactions. The service also solved some of the concerns regarding the security of personal information stored on the phone itself.
Because payments can be funded by a bank account, debit card or other services, it opens up the choice of digital payment beyond the traditional service providers: credit card companies and PayPal.
With new services like Serve and Google Wallet, I believe we are moving toward a mobile wallet pay-as-you-go future. There will be no obstacles preventing you from buying goods or services on or offline -- you'll just have to use your phone.