American Express has made its first move towards NFC payments with the launch of a mobile digital wallet.
Serve, the brand Amex gave to the alternative payment provider Revolution Money after buying it in 2009, will be available in person, online and via mobile phones.
Any card brand or bank account can be used to fund Serve transactions, and it works automatically with any merchant that already accepts Amex cards.
"This is not an Amex wallet," Dan Schulman, American Express' group president for enterprise growth told American Banker. "Serve," he added, "allows us to address a larger chunk of the marketplace that we haven't before.
"It's no secret that the world is moving towards digital transactions, and our goal is to be a market leader, and you will see that."
Users enrol by linking any bank or card account and choosing which to use to fund each payment. They receive a card for use at the point of sale, an account number to use online and an app that allows person-to-person payments from iPhone and Android handsets.
Later this year, Amex will allow third-party developers to connect to Serve using software development kits and open application programming interfaces. This will allow Serve payments to be built into televisions sets, for example.
Amex's surprise move into the digital wallet arena follows PayPal's announcement last year that moving the online payments service into the retail arena was now the company's "top priority".