Foursquare is definitely rolling out the big guns for this year’s SXSW. On top of this afternoon’s announcement of their parties, badges and soon-to-be-released version 3.0, comes word about a partnership with one of America’s biggest brands â€” American Express.
According to the Wall Street Journal, American Express has partnered with foursquare to court a younger demographic. “You go where your customers are and they are on places like Foursquare,” says Edward Gilligan, vice chairman for AmEx.
American Express cardholders will be able to link their accounts to foursquare to receive “Spend $5, Save $5″ deals at more than 60 businesses around Austin. Users will receive alerts about the deals through foursquare and can unlock them by paying with their American Express card.
The partnership is a trial to test the potential of tying credit cards to foursquare accounts. At this stage, users won’t be automatically checked in, but that may change in the future as foursquare looks to expand the program’s functionality and bring it to additional cities.
Tying checkins to credit card transactions is considered one of the holy grails for location-based services, because it removes the friction from the checkin process and provides proof that a user actually made a purchase and is not just checking in from the parking lot. It also offers the opportunity to tie additional point of sale data to the checkin, allowing foursquare to offer much more data than just an “I am here” signal. Foursquare and Amex aren’t there yet, but this partnership could make that a reality in the not-so-distant future.
Amex has previously partnered with foursquare with the launch of Social Currency, a social network based around spending money that’s built completely on top of the foursquare platform. Social Currency provides their own series of badges that mark different spending habits. They’ve also offered a system to allow foursquare checkins at the PGA Tour’s US Open, where mobile phones were banned and tied foursquare checkins to their Wish-a-Day giveaway campaign.
What do you think of the partnership between Amex and foursquare at SXSW?