With American Express behind the new service, you should probably expect to see lots of online services making Serve payments the newest option, with Ticketmaster, Concur and Flipswap amongst their first partners. Serve could potentially be the first company to pose serious competition for Paypal, a popular service that hasn’t been without its share of negative publicity. While Paypal does have a leg up on Serve when it comes to some of the service charges on transactions, there is something to be said for having another solid option for online transactions.
After signing up for the free service, you can then link your Serve account to your bank using your bank account number, your credit card number or even the last four digits of your social security number. Once your bank account has been verified, you will automatically receive a Serve card in the mail.
As with Paypal you can add funds to your Serve account from your bank account or credit card, and can also withdraw funds into your bank account. One of the major differences between Paypal and Serve is that, while you can add funds to both services using bank transfers or a debit card, with Serve, you can also add funds using your credit card. That extra service does come with a fee of 2.9% + 30 cents. That said, Serve will not begin charging a fee for credit card funds for another six months. ATM withdrawals with your Serve card will be charged at $2 per transaction, with one free transaction per month, as opposed to Paypal’s $1 per transaction.
Signing up for Serve gives you several payment options all in one account, including person-to-person (P2P) money transfers, mobile payments, in-store card payments and online transactions. You can also access your Serve account on the go with their free iPhone and Android apps, allowing you to send, request and receive money no matter where you are.
While Serve is currently only available for US bank accounts, if and when they begin to expand geographically, Paypal may lose some business.
Are you going to sign up for a free Serve account? Would you be willing to abandon Paypal in favour of the new American Express service? Let us know in the comments.