AMEX to offer brands customer data to boost m-commerce

American Express is accumulating a “spend graph” database of its customers’ transaction data to help brands customise their mobile marketing to consumers.


Speaking at the Open Mobile Summit in London today (30 May), Dan Schulman, group president at American Express, said the company is moving towards creating a “commerce ID” for consumers, which would act a sum of their transactions and brands they are loyal to.

Partner brands of American Express could potentially use this data to target smartphone users with offers and ads when they are in the vicinity of a retail store, or elsewhere on the internet where they might have an intention to make a purchase.

American Express’ partner brands include Zynga, Facebook and Twitter as well as the thousands of merchants that accept its card payments.

Schulman said a commerce ID would be very different to what is known as a social ID – how brands often target consumers on social networks – as often consumers post things on sites like Facebook to project who they want to be rather than who they actually are.

“Marketing going forward is not marketing to segments of the population, it’s to each and every one of us…the great thing right now is that we can measure this very specifically…data is the holy grail of digital commerce.

“It allows us to know when we advertise something online, and someone drags it into their mobile wallet and taps it on a POS, that someone responded to that offer and bought it and what else they bought: think about how powerful that information and data is for marketers,” he said.

Initially, Schulman said he thought the “unsexy” issues such as regulatory compliance and risk management would hold American Express back in the mobile commerce sector, but he adds that it has actually been a “huge advantage”, especially when it comes to trust.

He added : “With a commerce ID, most people will trust a major financial institution for that because what happens on commerce is financial, so they need to know it’s secure and that [if a transaction goes wrong] there is someone to call [where there will be] great service.”

Mobile commerce will become mainstream for consumers when the platforms to facilitate it are open, he said. This means companies will need to partner together to speed up the process, rather than having many different “mobile wallet” players, such as Google, O2, PayPal and Orange.

“The marketing weapon for a web 2.0 company is the algorithm and the ammunition for that is data, for data you need scale. A good scale proposition adds more value to merchants and consumers. It’s all about having a simple, easy to use platform that provides a distinct value proposition benefit for both sets of end users [consumers and retailers],” he said.

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