Exclusive: In a push to boost its payments platform for the gaming industry, American Express, has acquired virtual currency platform and in-game payments provider Sometrics. The total deal value is $30 million, but both parties declined to reveal further details about the split between cash and stock. Sometrics will become part of the Enterprise Growth Group, and will be used within American Express’ Serve digital payments platform to incorporate virtual currencies and loyalty programs.
Sometrics helps gaming publishers market free-to-play online games and monetize virtual currency with a consumer destination site and in-game payment solutions. Sometrics’ in-game payments platform basically powers virtual currency transactions and payments for game publishers. Sometrics also serves users with targeted offers based on their location, demographic, conversion history and social affiliation.
The company currently supports dozens of payment options (including mobile carrier infrastructure and credit card support) and hundreds of brand engagement ads, reaching a total global audience of more than 225 million consumers in more than 200 countries. And through Sometrics’ analytics capabilities, developers are able to view and analyze which audience demographics are responding to which payment options, respond by pushing traffic to the options that convert best, and optimize those conversions to help maximize revenue. Current gaming partners that use Sometrics include Nexon, NHN USA, IMVU, PopCap, BigPoint, Habbo, and many others.
The company also operates GameCoins.com, a centralized place to discover new gaming titles and earn virtual currency to be spent on games. Game Coins can be converted into a publisher’s virtual currency, as well as into Facebook Credits.
To date, Sometrics has helped process 3.3 trillion units virtual currency since the company’s launch in 2007. Sometrics also says that gaming partners see an average 15 percent revenue lift through the use of its virtual currency payment solutions.
To date, Sometrics has raised $6 million in funding from the Mail Room Fund, an investment consortium that includes the William Morris Talent Agency, Accel and Venrock, as well as AT&T, Greycroft Partners, and Steamboat Ventures.
Sometrics will be added to American Express’ Serve digital payment and commerce platform. The credit card giant debuted Serve in March as a way to integrate a variety of payment options into a single account that can be funded from a bank account, debit, credit or charge card. American Express will continue the operation of Sometrics’ current business and will work with Sometrics will allow Serve customers to purchase virtual currencies via the platform. Over time, AmEx plans to integrate Serve into the payment path of the games that Sometrics supports.
Of course, American Express isn’t the only credit card company looking to capitalize on the changes taking place in the payments industry. Visa has big plans to dominate mobile payments and the digital wallet, buying virtual goods payments platform PlaySpan for $190 million, as well as acquiring mobile payments company Fundamo for $110 million.
But in the past year, American Express has actually been making some interesting partnerships in the payments space, recently teaming up with Foursquare, Facebook and even Zynga for deals. This could help the company dominate social payments and close the redemption loop.
And AmEx has been boosting its Serve platform with carrier partnerships, including Sprint and Verizon. Serve has also formed relationships with other partners including TicketMaster, AOL, and a number of gaming companies (however, those names have not been disclosed yet).