Total System Services Inc. will begin processing payments for third-party clients that participate in the American Express OptBlue program.

American Express launched OptBlue nearly a year ago as a way for acquirers to set their own pricing for merchants accepting $1 million or less in annual Amex transactions.

The card brand established the program as a way to counter merchant complaints that they were generally paying a steeper 3.5% for Amex transactions than the 2% they might pay for Visa or MasterCard transactions.

The new processing program from Columbus, Ga.-based TSYS allows eligible direct merchants and small merchants from third-party acquirers to accept and process Amex card transactions in the same manner they do other payment card transactions from major card networks, TSYS states in an April 21 press release.

In doing so, merchants should benefit from improved cash flow, easier and faster reconciliation and one statement for all card brand activity, TSYS said.

“This exciting new program allows us to offer additional payment options to our clients and their eligible merchants that will enable them to be more competitive,” Craig Ludwig, head of product for TSYS’ Merchant Services segment, stated in the release. “The streamlined back-end processes and servicing allow merchants to spend more time concentrating on growing their business.”

American Express, which recently lost its contract with Costco, has viewed the OptBlue program as a key tool for its long-term growth

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