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Serve by American Express – We Have Questions

12 May

Checkout the homepage of Serve, American Express’ supposed “Visa, PayPal, Square Killer.”

Seriously, go check it out then return.

What you learn from the homepage: well, we gain a lot of confusion. We see keywords like “virtual wallet,” “online, offline and mobile,” “fast, simple and secure,” “Serve subaccounts,” and “Serve card.” But we are pretty unclear what exactly we are signing up to do, or what hardware or software will be involved. The main tagline is “Money re-imagined” – no idea what this could mean. Is this an indication of how the Serve usage will play out?

We are excited to see a big credit card company move to online payments – but the typical web 2.0 / 3.0 clarity and simplicity is missing.

Let’s compare to PayPal and Square homepages.

  • Square – “The Simplest way to get paid” and “Free Card Reader” – the pictures and demo video make everything clear and easy to understand. Sign up form fields are up front and prominent to get started right away.
  • PayPal – Three simple buzzwords – “Pay Online,” “Send Money, and “Get Paid.” PayPal has the advantage of a strong brand name, and familiarity from seeing the brand across the internet.

Assessment: Serve, for credibility and explanation, add pictures or video of what exactly we are getting into with a Serve account. Cut out the excess wording and let simple descriptions and pictures do the talking. Let us know how we can help.

Next time we try and figure out if Serve can work for small businesses, cafes and food trucks.

Simple Square

Familiar PayPal

Serve does what?

What do you think of this comparison? Let us know.



Innovative Payments: Swedish Postal Service to Sell Postage through Text Message

6 May

In other blog entries we have looked at innovative payment ideas in the technology + food space (such as splitting the dinner bill among friends or apps that use QR codes). We were excited to learn about something different – text message payments to pay for postage.

Good Bye.

Starting as early as this summer, Sweden’s citizens will be able to text message the postal service and receive a code back via text.  That code is then written on the envelope and accepted as postage (see The Local articleLA Times article).  This method saves customers time (no need to run to the post office), and government money (no need to print stamps). Further, this adoption of an alternative stamp payment system supports a belief that snail mail is not going anywhere.

As we think about cafes and food trucks we see potential for this sort of payment to exist in the future. Receive your bill, text message the cafe the amount on bill + tip, that amount gets charged to your phone bill, you receive a confirmation code from the restaurant, show the waiter and leave.

What other companies, non-profits or government entities are using text message payments? Let us know. Would you want to text to buy stamps?