American Express Co. is continuously trying to broadening its scope, shedding its image as a card for the elite to instead appeal to teens and young adults.
In recent years, Amex's products and campaigns have included a Facebook application, an in-game quest for Zynga's Farmville, and a "Card Sync" offer system tied to social media. Amex’s freshly announced partnership with student hub Chegg is another part of this mission.
"We are traditionally known as a financial services provider that is pretty firmly established in the wealthy, high-end segments within small parts of the population,” says Stefan Happ, senior vice president and general manager of online and mobile at Amex. “Our ambition and goal is to vastly broaden access … and be a far more inclusive brand.”
The Chegg relationship allows college students to receive payment from selling their textbooks on a prepaid card tied to Amex's Serve stored-value account.
Chegg reaches about 35% of the U.S. college population, Happ says. “We’re happy to get one-third [of college students] with Chegg, but are continuing to investigate the right partnerships to capture more students."
Teens and young adults are a key audience for many payments players, since these consumers tend to be early adopters of technology. SCVNGR's LevelUp recently partnered with Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services to bring its mobile payment app to colleges. Also, PayTango Inc. recently launched biometric payments on college campuses, enabling students to initiate transactions with the swipe of a finger.
Amex's Serve digital wallet, launched in 2011, is designed to help young adults transition to mainstream financial services, says Happ.
“It’s clear that there is a far more native affinity of the segment we’re targeting … with digital offerings than with any other generation,” Happ says. “This segment never has to migrate from offline to online, they’ve always lived their life online.”