Foursquare, the location check-in application that has gained significant traction in the social media landscape (just reaching over 10 million users) has recently struck up a deal with American Express.
Up until now, Foursquare has been primarily a social app for entertainment purposes only. Users would visit a place in the real world, and then “check-in” to that location using Foursquare on their smart phones or computers, earning badges based on various circumstances and letting others know where they are at any given time. The only revenue generated by the app so far has been through advertisers.
That is about to change.
Foursquare is now trying to focus on the more serious, real-world business of payments, coupons, and retail and American Express has stepped up to make that happen. Users will be able to link their American Express card to their foursquare account on their smartphone, and by doing so will be able to access discounts from selected stores by simply walking in and checking into their Foursquare account. The plan is to encourage first time customers to the store to perhaps try a brand or product by offering them a coupon or promotion, as well as encourage existing customers to return. Perhaps the more a customer checks-in to a particular store on different days, the better the coupons/promotions will become.
For Foursquare a tie-in with a major credit card company puts it firmly on the radar of retailers, marketers and payment vendors. For American Express, a tie-in with Foursquare gets it into the online discounting space and in-front of a young and tech savvy demographic. As we all know, credit card companies are ruthless with trying to bring on new customers (I remember receiving a credit card offer when I was 10), and with a tie-in like Foursquare, it won’t be hard to get young adults who are already fans of the social site to clamor to sign up with American Express.
It seems from this new venture that, if successful, Foursquare will begin to change their brand identity from that of an entertaining social game of sorts, to a consumer tool. If that happens, the “hip” aspect of Foursquare may dwindle. Then what’s to stop other promoters from cutting out the middle-man and just creating their own website for users to sign in and receive promotions?
As we all know about good ideas, time will have to tell whether or not they are successful.