American Express Launches $100M Fund To Invest In Digital Commerce Startups

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Recently, American Express has been pushing its own internal digital commerce initiatives including the company’s digital wallet, Serve. Serve integrates a variety of payment options into a single account that can be funded from a bank account, debit, credit or charge card. AmEx also announced a number of recent partnerships in the payments space include Foursquare, Facebook and even Zynga for personalized deals. But today, the financial company is reaching beyond its own internal payments projects to launch a $100 million fund to invest in startups and companies in the digital commerce space.

The digital commerce initiative will make investments in a number of areas involving the digital commerce experience, including loyalty and rewards, mobile and online payment management, fee-based services, security and fraud detection and data analysis.

Harshul Sanghi, American Express’ VP of the Enterprise Growth Group, explains that the investments will range in size but will focus on early-stage startups and be made over the next several years.

Sanghi, who will lead the new fund, tell us operations will be managed out of AmEx’s newly established office in Silicon Valley. Sanghi was formerly the Managing Director of North American venture activities for Motorola, and joined AmEx in September. His focus is on further developing the Serve brand and forming these partnerships that help expand the card member base into new segments.

“The payments industry is undergoing a fundamental change as the very nature of commerce is redefined,” he explains. “This fund is designed to encourage innovation in the payments space.”

AmEx has previously invested in a number of technology companies such as Clickable, Rearden Commerce, and Payfone but this is the first formalized fund established by the company.

With the announcement of such a large fund, clearly American Express is hoping to be an active part of the payments and commerce innovations taking place outside of the company. While AmEx has been more active in forming partnerships and acquiring new technologies than some of the other credit card companies, the company still has ways to go. But being part of this ecosystem will certainly help the company see what new technologies are taking off in payments and perhaps even be a good way to find companies to acquire.