Because millions of American Express' small-business clients were already tapping Amazon's e-commerce platform and B2B marketplace, it made sense for the companies to add a co-branded card to streamline the experience.
The card builds on an existing collaboration between Amex and Amazon that dates to 1996, shortly after Amazon's creation. The two companies are negotiating a launch date, brand name and incentives for the card, said Glenda McNeal, president of enterprise strategic partnerships at American Express. "These are continued conversations on what customers need and where there might be opportunities," McNeal said.
The strategic partnership with Amazon started with an agreement on global acceptance of Amazon transactions through Amex cards. It continued a few months ago when Amex launched data software with Amazon Business, the company's B2B e-commerce marketplace and purchasing solution, to provide owners of midsize and large businesses with line-item detail of their Amazon transactions.
"The enhanced data capabilities is a separate contract and negotiation we went through to give businesses better insight into their purchasing activity," McNeal said. "It gives quantity and cost of items, which is helpful to the business owner."
The data software also enables more efficient monitoring, control and reconciliation of Amazon Business transactions made with American Express corporate cards or corporate purchasing cards in the U.S.
The negotiation for the co-branded credit card for the past year has focused on how the companies "can actually enhance value with Amazon to the small-business customers we both serve," McNeal said, adding the companies will target all small businesses across all industries, McNeal said.
Amazon has been busy the past few years establishing new markets and partnerships, many targeting the consumer in retail settings. It has introduced a co-branded Amazon Platinum Mastercard in the U.K. and an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card in the U.S. It also offers proprietary Amazon and Amazon Prime store cards to be used only for Amazon purchases.
This time, the focus shifts to B2B transactions and the potential to expand in that arena with American Express.
“We selected American Express as our partner for the upcoming small business credit card because of our shared commitment to helping small businesses grow,” Max Bardon, vice president at Amazon, said in a press release. “Offering the best of both brands, the co-branded small business credit card program will combine the buying power, convenience and value small businesses have come to know and love from Amazon backed by the world-class service, benefits, access and security of American Express.”
Through all of Amazon's payment developments, agreements with card issuers are taking hold. The company recently agreed to work with Chase on automating and streamlining health care payments.