Partnerships / Acquisitions

Amex Buys Japanese Restaurant Platform

Amex Buys Japan's Pocket Concierge Platform

American Express has acquired Pocket Concierge, a restaurant reservation platform that provides customers with access to high-end restaurants in Japan, the company announced on Tuesday (Jan 15).

Pocket Concierge lets users search for and book more than 800 restaurants in real time all over Japan. Now that American Express owns the service, it plans to give cardholders even more access to top restaurants.

“Our card members love to dine out, so we are always exploring ways to provide them with greater access to reservations across the globe,” said Chris Cracchiolo, SVP of global loyalty and benefits at American Express. “Pocket Concierge’s reservation platform and extensive relationships with top Japanese restaurants provide us with a great opportunity to continue to enhance and expand upon the dining access we provide to our card members across the globe.”

Pocket Concierge will continue to exist in its current capacity for the time being. CEO Kei Tokado said he’s looking forward to building on what he created with his service. “Pocket Concierge is a service which was created on the back of the passion and inspiration I received while working as a chef, paired with the experience of my childhood around my family’s restaurant,” Tokado said. “It is a great pleasure to work with American Express, a company [that] has great relationships with restaurants all around the globe.”

In December, American Express also showed a renewed support for blockchain technology. Carlos Carriedo, general manager of corporate payments, said pilot tests with partner Ripple to enable real-time, cross-border corporate payments have been successful. Carriedo spoke at the Wings of Change Europe conference and emphasized American Express’ interest in blockchain technology.

“Blockchain is absolutely an option we’re looking at,” he said. “Just to give you a sense, we have invested in a FinTech lab based on blockchain technology, just to understand how to leverage this better.”

He pointed out blockchain company Ripple in particular, which is working with American Express and Santander to test a blockchain-powered, cross-border payments solution.

“We did a test, partnering with Santander locally, and with Ripple to just do cross-border transactions,” he said, according to reports. “And in a matter of seconds, through this test, our clients were able to transfer funds in a very transparent and seamless way, from one part of the world to the other.”

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