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Foursquare, Amex Partner On Offer Program At SXSW

The pilot program lets South by Southwest Interactive attendees link personal American Express accounts and Foursquare profiles to easily redeem merchant offers without coupons or codes.

Looking to add value for both consumers and merchants, Foursquare and American Express have partnered on a pilot program running at South by Southwest Interactive that allows participating card members to redeem offers without coupons or codes, or showing their smartphones to cashiers.

The test-run, which began Friday and ends on Tuesday, lets SXSWi attendees and residents of host city Austin, Texas, link their personal American Express Card accounts to their Foursquare profiles. Following completion of the pilot program, the two companies plan an official, broader rollout in the coming months. A more definite timeframe is not yet available, according to executives at both companies.

"We wanted to start to show merchants, and industry as a whole, how to add to the value of their offline advertising," Tristan Walker, director of business development at Foursquare, told InformationWeek.

American Express partly builds customer loyalty via its "member since" date, which appears on consumer's cards, he said. Likewise, Foursquare's service encourages loyalty by tracking the length of time a customer has visited a particular retailer, restaurant, or other location, he said.

"We're really trying to recreate for our users this appeal to socialize and evangelize their loyalty to [a] place. Foursquare wants to designate this 'regular' and have this really strong appeal to place, much like AmEx has done this with their card holders," Walker said. "It's a true match made in heaven."

The two companies also expect they could each generate some new clients, based on each of their established bases. By Friday morning, Foursquare already had attracted some American Express cardholders to its service, Walker said. Likewise, American Express expects some Foursquare users to consider applying for its card after learning about the promotion, Dave Wolf, vice president of global marketing capabilities, told InformationWeek.

After linking their cards and profiles, users automatically can redeem Foursquare specials by loading them to their AmEx cards within the new American Expressnew Smart Offer APIs, then using the card at participating merchants' locations. These American Express APIs receive notifications, so whenever enrolled card members pay with their AmEx card, they get a message alerting them about issuance of a statement credit. This step eliminates the need for merchants to train cashiers in offer-redemption procedures, and also allows them to more easily measure the success of their location-based marketing efforts, according to American Express.

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