Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

American Express Tests Another Location-Based Deal Platform: SCVNGR

Redeeming deals purchased online can be an awkward experience, with customers having to show and oftentimes explain to cashiers why their smartphone app or a printed-out certificate qualifies them for a discount.

So companies like Foursquare, and now SCVNGR, are teaming up with American Express to help users redeem deals and get credits when they swipe their credit cards.

Through the AmEx Smart Offer APIs available to approved partners, users can connect their social/local services to their AmEx accounts, and then when they use their AmEx cards to pay, deals are automatically credited through the card payment system.

Seems like a positive improvement in user experience, but for now it’s only very spottily implemented.

Through a partnership announced today, American Express cardholders will now be able to redeem coupons bought with SCVNGR’s LevelUp app at Levi’s stores in Boston, Philadelphia and–for the next week only–in San Francisco. That’s one retailer, one social service and one card provider, in three cities. Not exactly blanket coverage!

Meanwhile, a Foursquare-AmEx partnership launched for just 1,000 users at South by Southwest in Austin in March, where participants qualified for a $5 credit every time they spent at least $5.

A representative for American Express said the company was very satisfied with the demand for the Foursquare SXSW deal, and expected it would soon be extended. Meanwhile, SCVNGR CEO Seth Priebatsch said LevelUp merchants who accept AmEx in Philadelphia and Boston can join the promotion starting this week.

LevelUp rewards loyalty by giving customers increasingly good discounts if they buy more coupons from the same retailer. It only takes a cut of the deals if a customer has bought more than one.

SCVNGR investor Rich Miner, a co-founder of Android and now a partner at Google Ventures, said he expected that eventually near-field communication technology embedded on phones would be widely used to redeem deals (so a customer would swipe to buy), but for now SCVNGR is taking advantage of something that’s already widely deployed: credit cards.