American Express Co.’s small-business division, called Open, last week launched AcceptPay, an online invoicing and payment product designed to help merchants improve cash flow during these tough economic times. AcceptPay enables business owners to create, send and track invoices through one Web site. Through AcceptPay, customers can pay invoices using a major credit or debit card, cash or check, which businesses could convert into an electronic automated clearinghouse payment. The system deposits payments directly into the business owner's bank account.

"At a time when every dollar counts, business owners need tools and resources to help them better manage their firms’ finances, and that is why we created this innovative payment-collection” product, Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, AmEx senior vice president for Open, stated in a press release.

Every business owner, even if they are not an American Express Open cardmember, may apply for AcceptPay. Businesses pay no set up fee, and AmEx charges $20 per month for the service. Any business owner also may register for AcceptPay Lite, which is a free invoicing-only product that provides the opportunity to test the product.

To design AcceptPay, AmEx partnered with PaySimple, a Denver, Colo.-based provider of on-demand electronic payment-software services for small businesses. AmEx and PaySimple worked with business owners and used feedback from product test groups to create the product features.

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