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American Express is absolution a new adaptation of its iPhone app today that lets users acquisition offers at adjacent businesses. The new feature, dubbed “My Offers,” represents a blackmail to Groupon, which has approved to allure merchants to bazaar through its adaptable product, Groupon Now. (Full disclosure: I accept a actual baby pale in AmEx and a variety of short positions in Groupon.)

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Since the new app shows AmEx wants to move above payments into performance-based marketing, it shows AmEx could also become a blackmail to companies like Google and Facebook.

The app will go alive at 3 p.m. Pacific.

For consumers, AmEx’s My Offers holds the affiance of bigger targeted offers. The app uses a cardholder’s spending history (the “spend graph”) and area to actuate the best accordant offers. For merchants, it offers the adeptness to ability new barter after discounting to absolute customers. Merchants can accept to exclude consumers who accept fabricated a acquirement at their business aural the aftermost year from a promotion.

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Cannibalization of absolute full-price barter is one of the bigger affidavit Groupons can be barren for baby businesses. Targeting is, in general, a abundant bigger access to discounting than absolute discounts, and using transaction history is one of the best able means to do it.

Merchants can additionally accept to extend the action to anybody on the arrangement or actualize loyalty-based offers for echo customers. That’s a akin of targeting that hasn’t about been accessible to baby businesses.

Most of AmEx’s offers to date accept been focused on civic merchants. “It’s time now to get into allowance added of the bounded merchants and to achieve abiding that we accept the accoutrement that assignment for them,” said Ed Gilligan, carnality administrator of American Express. “It’s a actual chaotic amplitude for baby merchants, and we appetite to achieve abiding we’re acquirements and that this works for them.”

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“It’s beneath about aggravating to say can we do a Groupon Now or carbon what accession abroad is doing,” Gilligan said. “It’s added of a assiduity of what we started, which is affix cardmembers to the appropriate merchant. And advice both.”

Because the processing of the discounts happens on the aback end by AmEx’s computers, there is no agents training appropriate for bounded merchants. That’s generally an obstacle to alive deals. On the customer side, the customer aloof has to bash the agenda to pay; there’s no advertisement or paperwork required.

AmEx is not charging baby merchants initially.

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“We fabricated the accommodation that we didn’t appetite amount to get in the way of baby merchants starting to get involved,” said Luke Gebb, VP, all-around arrangement marketing. “Where we are now is aloof aggravating  to allure as abounding baby businesses as possible, prove that we can add amount to them.”

AmEx is initially absorption the bounded offers on New York and Los Angeles. It will be extensive merchants through a array of channels, including anxiety on the street. Some of the antecedent bounded offers include Amy’s Bread and Clinton Gourmet Bazaar in New York and Trust! Beard Salon and Freebird’s in Los Angeles.  Tonight, there should be hundreds of offers in New York and LA. A few civic offers are additionally available, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin Robbins, and FedEx.

The aggregation expects to barrage an Android app eventually but hasn’t appear timing on that yet.

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Unlike Groupon Now, merchants can’t currently use AmEx’s belvedere for crop management.

“If, over time, [small merchants] appetite to go to added of a crop administration system, we will acclimatize and acclimate with them,” Gilligan said. “We capital to barrage with accoutrement that are appealing simple to use.”

In accession to seeing offers from the AmEx app, consumers will be able to see offers that accept been loaded assimilate their cards via AmEx’s partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

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Although the technology and the cerebration abaft it is exciting, it’s a arduous botheration that requires acceptable the absorption of both consumers and merchants.

According to Gilligan, US users accept downloaded the AmEx app added than 3 actor times. That’s still a baby cardinal compared with others in the space. Foursquare claims 20 actor registered users. Attractive at the cardinal of alive users, which is added meaningful, Yelp has 6.3 actor annual alive users and Facebook has 488 actor annual alive users.

To date, there absolutely hasn’t been abundant acumen to download the AmEx app. The functionality has focused primarily on annual servicing: examination transaction history, attractive at Membership Rewards points, and advantageous bills. These are almost exceptional tasks that abounding achieve on the Web. Adding offers to the app will accord users addition acumen to download.

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If it saves me from seeing yet addition ad for laser beard removal, I’m all for it.

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