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Amex Negs Digital Wallets To Build Its Own Checkout, Pairs With Stripe To Spread It Wide

TECHCRUNCH: As Apple continues to build out Apple Pay for transactions in retail stores, one of its key partners is making a move to own the payment experience more directly online. American Express today is launching a new feature for cardholders called Amex Express Checkout, which it says will let them pay for goods and services on web, mobile and in apps with a single password that cardholders already have and use to access their Amex accounts — not unlike PayPal’s password-based checkout option.

Live in the U.S. starting today with a select group of retailers that includes Burberry, the Gap, Hulu, Ticketmaster and Avis Car Rental, Amex is also announcing a new partnership with Stripe to help the new feature pick up critical mass with more online businesses.

The financial terms of the deal between Stripe and Amex are not being disclosed. However, Amex confirmed to me that it is a backer of the payments startup, something that doesn’t appear to have been reported before, so it seems to stem out of that strategic investment.

According to Leslie Berland, Amex’s EVP for digital partnerships, one reason Amex decided to develop its own checkout service was because it was finding that many people weren’t using the wallets that are available today. Talking to merchant partners and consumers, “We identified many gaps and themes,” she told TechCrunch. Those included the hurdle of registering for the wallets in the first place.

The solution Amex went for was to tap into something that their consumers already have and use. Today, Amex offers its cardholders — there are 100 million globally, with a large proportion of them in the U.S. — the ability to log in online to access accounts, make payments and so on. It’s those same passwords that are being used to authenticate users in the checkout process. By opting for those already well-used passwords, “we recognised that we could do something that our competitors couldn’t do,” she added. Read the full article

TECHCRUNCH: Capital One has now made another acquisition aimed at improving its product design capabilities with today’s announcement that it has bought Oakland, California-based Monsoon, a design studio, development shop, marketing house and strategic consultancy. The 40-person Oakland team, which has done work developing apps and sites for companies like Yammer, Zazzle, the NBA, HP, Cisco, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, and others, will remain in their offices following the deal’s close while the remaining staff – around 35 persons – will continue on as a rebranded agency called Kunai.

Deal terms were not disclosed, but we understand that it would have been similar in size to other acquisitions of this size at Capital One. Monsoon co-founders Sandeep Sood, Neil Tolani, and Rishi Mehta are joining as a part of the acquisition.

The two companies had been working together for around six months ahead of the acquisition on an upcoming Capital One product designed to support small business customers. According Skip Potter, Managing VP of Engineering at Capital One who orchestrated this deal, as the two companies continued to work together, they realized they were aligned in their philosophies around product development, and Monsoon had the skill sets Capital One needed as it continues to try to re-invent banking for the digital, mobile age.

As for Sandeep Sood, Monsoon co-founder and CEO, he says he took the meeting with Capital One largely because Monsoon’s team had been “huge admirers” of Adaptive Path, which Capital One bought last October. That earlier acquisition had some scratching their heads – why was a bank buying a design firm? – but it represented Capital One’s new focus on turning itself from being just another bank into being more of a software company. Read the full article

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