American Express and Verizon tout digital payment initiative

Slated as the “next big thing,” mobile payments are hot on the radar for carriers, credit card operators, and even daily deal sites.

This week, American Express confirmed Verizon Wireless will be joining its Serve digital wallet initiative, along with other big operators like Sprint.

Serve allows users to authenticate a mobile number through their carrier for fast on-screen purchases at  millions of vendors who accept American Express.

Earlier this year, Verizon announced that it would be supporting mobile payments through Payfone, a service that American Express later merged with Serve.

Verizon, Research in Motion, Rogers Communication and American Express are all investors in Payfone. Payfone allows for secure authentification and one-click payments through the SS7 signaling layer and will be used to make Serve more secure.

“Serve provides a quick and intuitive way for our customers to use their mobile service in a refreshingly convenient way. Our commitment to building the entire mobile payments ecosystem, through our Isis joint venture and now with Serve, gives customers incredible new ways to use their mobile devices,” said Greg Haller, president, enterprise & government for Verizon Wireless.

Although AmEx has established partners like Verizon and Sprint, it has yet to release details on which devices will support Serve payments and how exactly vendors will accept these payments.

Beyond online and offline payments, AmEx has confirmed that Serve will be part payment method, part offers and coupons, which puts it in direct competition with Foursquare and Groupon Now’s newest partnership, as well as other daily deal platforms powered through Facebook and Google.

The partnership is significant for Verizon who is already involved in Isis, a near field communications joint venture between mobile operators. Although NFC won’t be enabled until some time next year, it shows that Verizon is putting its money on mobile payments as the next big thing.