Posts Tagged ‘American Express’
In case you haven’t heard, Apple announced its upcoming mobile wallet service. It will be introduced through an app called Passbook with the release of its next iPhone. The app will allow users to store loyalty cards, event tickets, and coupons in the app. The company’s intentions are somewhat unclear, but experts seem to think this positions Apple to move into mobile payments mainly because it’s not a huge leap from storing loyalty cards to storing credit cards. And consumers already trust Apple – the company has 400 million credit cards on file through iTunes, so the transition could be relatively seamless.
Apple will enter an already crowded space. Google, of course, has been offering Google Wallet for a year now. The offering is limited by the fact that it works only with Sprint on a handful of phones, with one payment card – the Citi Mastercard – and can only be used where Mastercard’s PayPass system is used. Sprint has announced its intention to introduce its own mobile wallet, and it’s unclear how that will affect the mobile relationship. Isis has been in development for almost a year, and is a partnership between T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. American Express cardholders will be able to use the Isis mobile wallet, along with Chase, Capital One and Barclay cardholders. The service is scheduled to begin testing this summer in Salt Lake City and Austin, TX.
And then there’s Facebook. It’s hard to imagine that the company would actually move into the mobile wallet space. However, the company does seem to want a piece of the action, although probably most likely in the form of processing payments, rather than creating mobile wallet products for consumers. It recently moved away from its virtual currency to real money – something that the experts think is an indication of the company’s intentions to move into the payment space. And in a survey – this one by Cisco – 30% of consumers surveyed said they might one day use Facebook for banking services if they were offered. In terms of specific types of banking products, 14% said they would use a Facebook prepaid account they could reload, 8% would consider using a Facebook checking account or debit card, and 5% would consider a savings account or online bill-payment service. Despite the Cisco survey, there’s no indication that the company plans to provide traditional banking services. The company has also obtained money transmitter licenses in 15 states which are required for companies that keep, retrieve or transfer money. Additionally, any eWallet service would require a money transmitter license. The general consensus is that the licenses are an indication that Facebook plans to create a wider payment system, but guesses on the specifics vary widely.
Despite a large number of surveys done on the subject, it’s somewhat unclear how consumers feel about mobile payments. Starbucks is certainly a success story that no other retailer has been able to match. The app launched in January, 2011 and by the beginning of December 2012 the company stated that there had been 26 million transactions using the app. According to a study by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting group, which surveyed 600 consumers, 48% were “interested” in mobile wallets. Of those, 53% said they would prefer an alternate provider over their primary bank. But according to a survey by IDC, of consumers who have a phone enabled with Near Field Communications, only 2% are expected to use them for purchases in 2012.
The technology landscape is certainly littered with product failures. Some because of bad marketing approaches, some had fatal design flaws, and some because consumers just weren’t ready. But sometimes these product failures pave the way for the future. Remember Apple’s Newton? It was a complete flop, but in retrospect provided valuable information to make the iPad the huge success that it is. When Apple announced the release of the iPad, many naysayers talked about the failed Newton. Many of today’s mobile wallet players most likely won’t be around in the future. But most of them will probably provide valuable information on how to construct and offer a mobile wallet to consumers. Despite less than enthusiastic consumer sentiment, the mobile wallet is destined to happen sooner rather than later.
Feeling adventurous? Then you should check out Nextpedition, a new take on travel, introduced by American Express. Through American Express’ Nextpedition website, you can build a custom-made trip based on your personal preferences, but the destination and itinerary will remain a mystery until the day you depart. To start, consumers take an online quiz to determine their travel profile, which includes questions about hobbies, interests and even social media activity. Consumers will find out what kind of traveler they are, defined by a “travel sign.” Examples of these signs include “Poshaholic,” “Hiplomat,” “Nature Junky” and more – talk about marketing segmentation, right?
To complete the entire process, travelers must also consult with a specially trained American Express Nextpedition Specialist who helps to create the mystery itinerary. Once everything is booked, travelers will receive a pre-programmed travel console/smart phone, which will communicate the itinerary to them day-by-day, and allow travelers to share their experiences on Facebook. Nextpedition trips are available for individual travelers or groups, they vary in price point starting at $1,000 for domestic and $2,500 for international, and there is a seven-day minimum duration.
The Nextpedition website intrigued me enough that I took the Travel Profiler myself. I went through 15 entertaining questions which were clearly aimed at differentiating the music-lovers from the sports fanatics and the foodies. Here are a couple sample questions:
The zombie apocalypse is real and they are attacking. What do you do?
a) Look up how vampires were dealt with in the middle ages
b) Search for an antidote, because there has to be a cure
c) Build a flamethrower out of an old grill and car parts
d) Grab a baseball bat and start swinging
e) Have a massive party, cause it’s all over anyway
While on your trip, a book will be written about you. What’s its title?
a) Eyes on Design
b) The Movable Feaster
c) The Architect of Sound
d) The Superfan
e) Off the Grid
At the end of the quiz I was deemed a “Gastronaut,” but I was also given runner-up options of “Blisstorian” and “Tasteblazer.” (I obviously fell into the foodie bucket.) Each runner-up travel sign came with a general description, and the ability to choose either if I thought it was a better fit for me. Once I had selected my preferred sign, I was given the option to post my travel sign to Facebook or start my Nextpedition planning. Interestingly, in order to start the Nextpedition, I was still required to sign into Facebook. Needless to say, this is a very social media-oriented program. Although I stopped the process at this point, I am pretty confident that it would have taken me all the way to a tasty new adventure.
Using credit cards for holiday shopping offers many benefits such as convenience, peace of mind, purchase protection, and now extra rewards. In order to encourage usage this holiday season, many credit card companies are offering special cash back deals and savings opportunities. For example, Discover has a holiday-themed website featuring the tagline “Gifts for them. Rewards for you.” Discover’s website also features a special incentive offer of $150 cash back when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening a Discover Card.
According to USA Today, this isn’t Discover’s only promotion. Discover is also offering 5% to 10% more cash back on purchases at select retailers, but only if they are made through Discover’s Shop Discover. American Express is offering five times the rewards points on purchases from select retailers such as Apple and Target. And the Amazon.com rewards card offers extra rewards on digital downloads purchased during a limited time-frame. Comperemedia observed another special offer for the Amazon.com Rewards card, promoted in the email and digital channels. From November 15 through December 31, customers can earn 3 points for every $1 spent with the Amazon.com Rewards card through Checkout by Amazon. Checkout by Amazon is a feature available through many online merchants that ties all of your purchases back to your Amazon account, even if they are made on another website.
There are also many rewards that might not be as obvious. I happened to stumble upon the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and discovered that American Express is offering a $25 statement credit when you register an eligible American Express card and use that card to make a purchase of $25 or more at a small business on November 26th.
The holidays are quickly approaching, so it would be worth your while to take the time now to browse through some of the special deals out there and find the best card for the kind of shopping you like to do. Take the time and do some digging, it could be extremely rewarding.