AmEx, Patch Partner To Serve New Users


Going after Groupon and other deal providers, AOL's local news network Patch has partnered with American Express on a similar service.

The alliance will rely on Serve, a new digital payment and commerce platform developed by the credit-card company. By the fall, users should be able to sign up for Serve accounts via hundreds of Patch's hyper-local sites.

Officially part of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, Patch's Deals platform launched in select communities earlier this month. It lets users redeem local steals, as well as transact with local merchants via the American Express network.

Through the partnership, local merchants will be able to post offers online more easily. Consumers will have the convenience of redeeming offers at the point of sale.

Patch and Serve will offer users an even stronger connection to their communities and the businesses in their area," commented Warren Webster, president of Patch Media. In addition to the editorial content on its more than 800 sites, Patch provides a platform for local businesses to connect with target customers.

Featuring over 850,000 small business listings, the network represents a growing threat to Web heavyweights like Google and Yelp. Both have aggressively sought to corner the local advertising markets.

Serve accounts will include a co-branded card, which can be used to redeem local merchant deals offline -- meaning no coupons to print or codes to remember.

In partnering with Patch, Serve hopes to dramatically expand its consumer reach to millions of users in Patch communities nationwide.

"Our collaboration with AOL's Patch increases the scale and reach of the Serve platform and helps bridge the divide between online commerce and offline deals," stated Dan Schulman, group president of Enterprise Growth at American Express.

ComScore expects the group-buying market to triple to $3 billion this year, Yon Nuta, the research firm's product head said last week during OMMA Social. According to Nuta, Groupon's audience has grown 250% from a year ago, versus 182% for rival LivingSocial.

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