The Wall Street Journal reports that American Express has bought into the growing online-payment business by acquiring Internet-transaction company Revolution Money for about $300 million. The article quotes Amex as saying that "the acquisition will help it develop reloadable, prepaid products; introduce new products for cardmembers who currently use other alternative-payment systems; work on payment alternatives designed for social-media sites; and develop mobile-payment solutions in the U.S."
Revolution money provides secure payments through an Internet-based platform and the company also offers a prepaid card linked to online accounts that can be used for offline payments or to withdraw cash from ATMs. But it is its breathtakingly cheaper transaction cost for accepting credit cards, slashed by up to 75% for merchants, that ought to be of tremendous interest to hoteliers, who, along with merchants in a variety of field have fought long (and continue to do so) and hard to contain credit-car fees.
Amex for its part hopes the acquisition will "help it develop reloadable, prepaid products; introduce new products for cardmembers who currently use other alternative-payment systems; work on payment alternatives designed for social-media sites; and develop mobile-payment solutions in the U.S."
As for mobile payment solutions, the US is a significant laggard as compared to Asia and Europe where a mobile platform is used to pay for a variety of goods and services from transportation to music and books using four primary means: SMS (text), WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), NFC (Near field communication) and direct billing to the mobile phone. But as the article on Amex's acquisition of Revolution notes, the charge card giant expects to delve into mobile payment solutions before long.
Assuming potential savings are passed on, the industry stands to benefit from that as well. That will be a welcome development as the internet continues to afford unparalleled control to the consumer resulting in essentially one platform serving all her/his needs from travel to destination management and, soon, payment.