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American Express Testing Wearables and Facial Recognition Tech

Tim Maytom

amex bluebirdAmerican Express is working with tech firms to experiment with facial recognition and wearable technology, with the aim of expanding the capabilities of its mobile apps and delivering products to customers underserved by the financial services industry.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is aiming to boost business growth by using emerging technology to appeal to niche segments like heavy mobile users keen to use digital wallets, or those with low credit ratings who traditionally avoid larger financial firms.

As the payments and banking sector is increasingly disrupted by innovative solutions utilising mobile, larger companies such as American Express have found themselves forced to embrace the latest mobile technology or risk being quickly left behind in new markets.

Among the technologies currently being investigated by the company is facial recognition, which would be used to capture and authenticate user identity on mobile devices as an alternative to user names and passwords.

The company has already worked with Wal-Mart to develop a prepaid, reloadable card system called Bluebird, and designed and launched a digital wallet and peer-to-peer payment system called Serve that aims to increase its presence in the digital payments world.

The firms Enterprise Growth group utilises a lab of developers and designers who work with devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass, seeking ways to adapt its existing services to new devices and channels, using prototypes and mock-ups to test feasibility. "We want to do the minimum amount of work to demonstrate whether a leap of faith to full development is worth taking," said Neal Sample, president of the Enterprise Growth group.