American Express lets Twitter users shop via tweet

Users can now sync their American Express cards to buy products directly on Twitter

American Express is rolling out a new service on Twitter that lets card holders make purchases on the social network through specialized tweets.

Dubbed "Amex Sync," the technology integration will allow Amex users who sync their cards with Twitter to buy products just by including special hashtags. It launched on Monday with an offer for discounted Amex gift cards and will expand to include a range of physical products from companies including Amazon, Sony, Urban Zen and Microsoft's Xbox business.

It works like this: Cardmembers can sync their eligible cards to Twitter by going to sync.americanexpress.com/twitter and adding a billing and shipping address. Starting Monday, users can tweet #BuyAmexGiftCard25 to purchase a US$25 Amex gift card for $15.

The system sends users a confirmation tweet in their @ Connect tab within 15 minutes, and after the user tweets back to confirm the purchase, the product will ship to the address on file via two-day shipping, courtesy of American Express.

Other products will go on sale beginning Wednesday, such as an Amazon Kindle Fire HD for $150 and an Xbox 360 4GB console with a three-month Xbox Live subscription for $180. Users can search for products by checking the "favorites" that will be highlighted on the @AmericanExpress Twitter page, American Express said in a press release on Monday.

Offers from merchants will be available throughout the year. "We want to ensure long-term, sustainable value for cardmembers who sync," said Shari Forman, vice president of global strategy, in an email interview.

The technology is an extension of "Card Sync," a proprietary service announced last March that is designed to offer couponless savings to Amex card holders who tweet special-offer hashtags. The success of that service showed that there was "significant power" in combining Amex's assets with the Twitter platform, Leslie Berland, Amex's senior vice president of digital partnerships and development, said in a statement.

The service is also designed to let users take advantage of discount offers in brick-and-mortar stores. In a video about Card Sync, a user shopped for flowers after tweeting #AmexFlowerOffer, and received an automatic credit on his card statement following the purchase, Amex said. Users' account information will be kept private and won't be shared, Amex said.

American Express said the Card Sync integration could eventually be applied to other social networks, but it declined to specify which ones.

"Twitter is the most dramatic manifestation of what our technology can do because it's all happening in 140 characters or less and showcased in a hashtag," said Amex's Forman. But "the beauty of the Card Sync platform is it's very flexible and portable," she said.

The move shows that Twitter is gradually establishing a presence in e-commerce as some of its largest competitors are also becoming more active in this area. Facebook, for example, launched its Gifts product last year, and just last month unveiled its physical "Facebook Card" for making purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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