American Express and Zynga Expand Virtual Rewards From A to Z


American Express continues to innovate in the social media space, working with Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook, and now adds a major gaming play to its virtual and real portfolio. Today, AmEx and Zynga launched a co-branded, prepaid Serve Card, called Zynga Serve Rewards, linking everyday spending to virtual rewards for millions of online gamers.

Tied to AmEx’s Serve next generation open payments platform and digital wallet, this latest move is a first in the prepaid card market by offering in-game incentives for daily expenditures. The reloadable Serve pre-paid debit card will reward users in Farmville cash.

“We’re excited to partner with American Express to invent new ways for people to experience Zynga play in more parts of their day,” stated Mark Pincus CEO and Founder of Zynga. “Together we can add surprise and delight to every day shopping.”[more]

FarmVille players can now plant an interactive Serve Money Tree in their Farms enabling them to level up in-game and earn Zynga Farm Cash for virtual awards redemption. FarmVille remains one of Zynga’s most popular brands attracting 4.5 million unique users a day.

After planting the tree, the following steps must be taken by July 31, 2012: register for the program to receive a card in the mail; add money to the Serve account from a bank account, debit card, credit card, or cash using a GreenDot MoneyPak; activate it online or by phone.

At launch, only the first five purchases of $25 or more on the Zynga Serve Rewards card will earn Farm Cash rewards, but as the program expands, all purchases will receive in-game rewards tracked through an in-game dashboard. 

“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with Zynga and provide an easy way for players to earn Zynga virtual game cash by learning about Serve and signing up to receive the many benefits of our digital wallet,” said Dan Schulman, President of Enterprise Growth, American Express. 

Later this year, the program will include additional incentives that go beyond the initial first five purchases of $25 or more, and similar programs will be introduced in other games such as CastleVille and CityVille.

The partnership targets a wider demographic for American Express. “It opens up tremendous opportunities to address segments of the market that we weren’t able to address with traditional credit or charge products, including the youth or underserved markets,” commented Schulman to All Things D. “It’s a closed loop for Zynga players. It’s so very different than what anyone else has done.”

“What’s appealing to these brands is our 292 million monthly uniques, which is providing them with the reach of TV with the effectiveness of online and gaming,” added Zynga CMO Jeff Karp. More information in the video below: