Serve is the American Express reply to both PayPal and Google Wallet (Amex Serve vs. PayPal). It has been criticized for not offering anything new that PayPal was not offering one year ago, and this was last year. However, just this February 16, 2012, Serve released a statement that it would be operating with the same technology as Google Wallet – making a sale or transaction through the use of smartphones and an NFC card reader.
A Competition in the Offing
This makes it a potential three-way race – PayPal has been at Google Wallet right from the start, after Google hired one of PayPal’s top employees prior to introducing the Google Wallet to the world. And then the Google prepaid card was born, making the use of the Google Wallet much easier. With the entry of the AMEX Serve, PayPal is being left behind, but the real benefit is to the consumer – competition is always to its advantage.
The more merchants employ NFC readers for their transactions, the better it is going to be for the consumer. With Google Wallet alone, there is no real pressure to fix the glitches in the system when trying to make a purchase off your mobile phone. However, with a new competitor, one will try to outdo the other, and here, AMEX Serve has already taken a swing.
The AMEX Serve does not come with any fees whatsoever. For people used to seeing extra charges on their American Express credit cards, this will be something new, and potentially something more attractive. For American Express, this is also a foray into an entirely new market – the prepaid market has been ignored by American Express for the longest time, and with Serve, the potential to dominate the market is just waiting.
This is because unlike Paypal or Google, the American Express has had a financial relationship with the whole of the United States at one time or another. Besides, the AMEX Serve has the whole structure of American Express behind it, putting it at least one step ahead of the Google Wallet, which is composed mainly of innovators and programmers, and not by financial wizards.
Aside from that, the AMEX Serve already has a list of participating merchants that American Express already has in its pockets. So while Google is still struggling to find more merchants to install NFC readers to make Google Wallet transactions, all American Serve has to do is to advice each merchant on the list to participate with AMEX Serve by installing NFC card readers in their physical stores.
- Person-to-person money transfers
- Purchasing online and in stores with the Serve card, which comes once you open your account.
- Reloading money on your account from a checking account
- You can withdraw money from ATM
- You can deposit money from your Serve account to checking account in exchange of a fee.
Getting cash from an ATM after using your first free withdraw a month will cost you $2.00, plus whatever the ATM might charge you for using it. If you want to fund your Serve account with a credit card, you’ll be charged 2.9% of the amount transferred plus $0.30 for each transfer.
Paying money to someone else with serve account is cheaper than what PayPal takes.
In every business competition, the end consumer is always the winner. With AMEX Serve on the move to have more NFC readers installed, even Google Wallet will be along for the ride. With both AMEX Serve and Google Wallet able to make wireless transactions through the combination of smartphones and NFC card readers, more merchants will be familiar with the transaction process, unlike today, where making a transaction via the Google Wallet is like making big juju magic with your smart phone.
And with more merchants willing to take on wireless transactions, more consumers will have that option to do so, and will hopefully take on the technology as both Google and American Express hope they do.
And it all started with PayPal, so don’t count them out yet. If the technology takes, it is certain that PayPal will take the bait as well. And the more competitors, the better, because then the technology will make the wireless transaction safer, smoother and hopefully cheaper than where it is right now.
Things we like about Serve.com:
1. $10 sign-up bonus
2. Sign up is easy both on Mobile and online versions.
3. Trusted brand from American Express, who are in business for more than 150 years. With global presence.
4. Sub account feature makes sharing same account within family easier than any other mobile payment platform
5. Well defined user interface which is very easy to navigate and easy to transact.
6. Instant money transfer between parties, even faster than PayPal.
We give this product a “should Apply” rating with the above factors in mind. Whether it will be as widely accepted as PayPal is to be seen.