American Express last year launched its Serve payment system taking on PayPal head on. Now, it’s following PayPal’s move to enable personal payments through Facebook with the launch of a Serve Facebook app, that allows users to pay each other back for free without leaving Facebook.
Users of the Serve app will be able to select a Facebook friend and request money from them, with the request appearing on the recipient’s wall without the amount. The recipient can click through and pay via the Serve app, provided they’re a registered Serve user. Paying via the Serve app works similarly, except that the user must enter in their Serve PIN number to send any money. There are no fees involved in sending money back and forth through Serve, regardless of how the payment is funded.
PayPal introduced a Send Money Facebook app in November, allowing people to send a personal payment for free as long as it’s tied to a PayPal balance or a bank account. If users fund the payment through a credit card, it costs 2.9 percent plus 30 cents and the payer, or sender, pays.
The two Facebook services have other differences. Send Money sends people out to PayPal to complete a payment and requires users to enter in a recipient’s email address. Serve conducts payments all via Facebook and populates friends right in the app. Send Money allows people to attach an e-card with a picture of video. Serve users can also create a Serve widget for Facebook to raise money, sell something or set up a charity campaign. The customizable widget will live in a Serve widget store.
“The way people exchange money is evolving, and so is Serve,” said Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth, American Express in a statement. “We’re constantly working to bring our customers a seamless and consistent payment experience—one that makes sense for our increasingly social lives, whether that’s paying a friend back for movie tickets or sending someone money for your share of the vacation house—it can now be sent on Facebook.”
American Express has been growing its presence on Facebook and in July launched a service called Link, Like, Love, that allows people to access American Express deals through Facebook and link the coupons to their credit cards.
The Serve App is an attempt to keep moving American Express’ PayPal alternative orward. The service, which launched almost a year ago, allows users to buy things, withdraw cash from ATMs and make personal payments from their phone or computer using an account that is funded from a user’s bank account or credit or debit card. American Express has signed deals with Verizon and Sprint to allow people to buy goods by entering in their phone number. And it’s figuring out how to prepare Serve to make a play in physical store transactions. It’s not clear how big a boost being on Facebook will provide Serve but it keeps it in the fast-moving payments conversation and gives it a new way to be discovered. And with the Serve widgets, American Express provides a way for people to easily sell stuff and raise money, whether it’s for a personal trip or a worthy cause.
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