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Image: Bloomberg News
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American Express Adds Features to Serve, Bluebird Cards

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American Express is adding financial management tools to its Serve and Bluebird prepaid cards and is expanding the cards' cash reload network.

The two cards run on the same platform, which also supports LianLian in China. Altogether, these products added 2.4 million users in the first four months of the year, including one million acquired in April.

During this four-month period, the Serve platform handled $1.9 billion in transactions, triple its volume from a year earlier and representing an annual run rate of almost $6 billion. American Express plans to add another Serve-based card, called One VIP, in collaboration with Radio One on June 16.

Amex is steadily expanding the cash reload network for its Serve platform. The New York card network has added Family Dollar to its network, which now includes 27,500 stores including CVS, Walmart and some 7-Eleven locations. Amex added Walmart's locations in April.

Some of the momentum in Serve card enrollment can be attributed to the Isis mobile wallet, which is operated by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. Isis allows users to obtain a Serve card when they start using the mobile wallet, and the carriers use their stores' sales staff to sign up customers for both products.

Isis activates about 20,000 mobile wallets a day, and the Isis carriers' sales process is "the biggest driver of Isis and Serve adoption," according to Stefan Happ, Amex's senior vice president and general manager of online, mobile and Serve, in an April interview.

With Serve's new personal financial management tools, customers will be able to access a variety of budgeting features online and create spending alerts and a financial plan.

American Express launched its Bluebird prepaid card with Walmart in October 2012. By the end of January 2013, it had over 575,000 account holders and $275 million in funds loaded onto the cards. 

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