American Express and Zynga have partnered on creating a new prepaid debit card that rewards users with a rewards program. The users would be able to earn virtual currency when spending money in the real world in a way that similar to consumers earning free airline miles for every dollar spent on an airline miles card. The rewards will start with FarmVille and it will eventually be expanded to CityVille and CastleVille.
?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,? stated AmEX President of Enterprise Growth Dan Schulman.
Zynga and AmEx started the program five days ago. About 500,000 people have already liked Serve, AmEx’s alternative payment service, on Facebook and received a virtual tiger. FarmVille is one of Zynga’s oldest games, but it still has 4.5 million unique users per day.
When FarmVille fans visit the Serve farm, they are prompted to plant a virtual Serve Money Tree on their farm. Users can then register to receive Zynga Serve co-branded prepaid card in the mail. After that, they will have to link the card to a bank account, debit card, credit card, or cash through a GreenDot MoneyPak account.
AmEX will initially reward a consumer’s first five purchases of $25 or more, but the program will be expanded beyond those types of transactions soon. Zynga CMO Jeff Karp said that the program will not be replacing the current rewards programs, but will be an extension instead.