Social Currency: American Express Joins With Foursquare

American Express Social Currency iPhone App

This is an interesting (and brave) move by American Express. They’ve partnered with location service Foursquare to produce Social Currency, an iPhone app that lets users share details about items they wish to purchase, or have purchased.

Whilst it appears to be US-only for the moment, it’s a pointer to how other credit card companies may start to leverage social networks in the UK.

The Social Currency app lets you catch up with your foursquare friends—whether they’re down the street or across the country. Just use your iPhone to check in, then start telling all your friends about what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, what you’re buying, and what you’re still looking for. And upload photos of your finds, so your friends can see. And after you’ve checked in, take a look into your friends’ bags, too. Find out their deepest desires and their satisfied cravings. Test their bargain-hunting brawn
, and leave comments for them
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Powered by foursquare, Social Currency turns your real money into play money, giving you Badges while you buy. Show the world your great taste, and keep tabs on which of your friends eats the most pizza, who’s buying this season’s must-have shoes, who’s out singing the most karaoke.

Why interesting?

Well, this is a big credit card company entering a hot market, location tagging, with one of the hot platforms, Foursquare. Indeed, users have to have an account directly with Foursquare themselves in order to be part of Social Currency.

The app, which is targeting young adults, was developed to compliment a new website, Currency, which promotes financial education, so it’s a clever way of using a fresh and fashionable technology with a pretty dry subject.

American Express appear to be interested in Foursquare’s game elements, where “badges” are awarded to people who check-in to locations a number of times. Let’s hope it doesn’t promote over-spending by those looking to beat their friends.

Why brave?

Well, sharing purchase information is a little intrusive, as is sharing location data. Obviously, both are opt-in, so users know what they are signing up to, but there are concerns about opening up this level of data, nevertheless.

There may also be concerns expressed about how American Express use the data that they collect through the app. As the platform is provided by Foursquare, both they and American Express have access to it:

The information you provide when playing the Social Currency App is simultaneously collected and used by both American Express and by Foursquare…

There are other apps that collect and display purchase information, such as Blippy (read more about Blippy) and Swipely.

Screenshots

Social Currency iPhone App Screenshot

Social Currency iPhone App Screenshot

Social Currency iPhone App Screenshot

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