Amazon and American Express have teamed up to offer a co-branded credit card for small business owners, as the e-commerce giant continues to expand its financial and payments products, according to an American Express press release.
American Express described that card offering as part of a broader multi-year partnership that also includes an enhanced data solution to enable U.S. businesses to have more insight into their purchasing activities.
This news comes about three months after Amazon was reported to be in talks with JPMorgan Chase and other banks about rolling out a small business credit card.
Some previous reports about Amazon's interest in offering a small business credit card hinted that Chase was the leading candidate to issue this card, which would not have been a surprising development, given that Amazon has already partnered with Chase on consumer credit cards and also forged a significant healthcare partnership with the bank.
In that respect, the unveiling of a partnership with American Express may qualify as a plot twist, although a minor one considering American Express' strong legacy in the business credit card market. It may also demonstrate Amazon's intention of partnering with all the sector heavyweights, and not just one, as the company expands its financial products and services.
Research from Forrester and others has indicated that consumers have a high level of trust in Amazon's ability to be their digital wallet provider and to provide them with quality financial offerings. Facing a choice that many merchants and brands are familiar with, the big banks will need to decide if they want to watch Amazon from the bleachers, or partner with the perennial disruptor.
This announcement also came the same week that PayPal's Venmo announced it would offer a debit card to the socially-active customer base of its peer-to-peer payments service. The Venmo debit card and Amazon's American Express small business card are different products with different audiences, but the close timing of the announcements — whether intentional or not — shows how Amazon and Venmo may find themselves increasingly competing head-to-head in the changing financial and payments arena.
In fact, Amazon was reportedly mulling the creation of a Venmo peer-to-peer payments competitor in April, and this small business card could help the e-commerce giant forge a bond with the types of businesses PayPal (which owns Venmo) works with. In any case, we are likely to hear more similar announcements from these giants in the future, and it seems like Amazon's long-rumored interest in offering more financial products is starting to take off.