Continuous strategic innovation is only way forward for Cards Industry: American Express CEO

Published May 22nd, 2006 - 01:52 GMT

Sustained strategic innovation was highlighted as crucial for the growth of the payment cards industry in a keynote speech delivered today by Mr.Trevor Stokes, President & CEO of American Express Middle East, at the Cards Middle East conference in Dubai.

Citing the company’s strategy of ‘Channel Innovation’, which has resulted in opening its doors and pursuing selective bank partnerships, Mr. Stokes emphasized the importance of fundamental change to address the growing intensity of competition in the cards market.

Addressing an audience of over 200 representatives from the banking industry
Mr. Stokes provided a wake-up call to any card issuer or bank partner who becomes complacent.  “The fact that a company like American Express, which has been issuing cards since 1950 can revitalize itself and start seeking bank partnerships after following a closed loop model for decades shows how this business is changing,” said Mr. Stokes.

“The whole of the Card business is under tremendous pressure to grow and gain market share as we move from a cash based society towards sophisticated and technology driven buying habits.


“The only way for Card issuers and banks to address this is to embrace continuous strategic innovation, which can often mean completely changing the way business has been conducted for years.  To compete in this new environment, nothing is sacred and everything is open to change.”

Mr. Stokes added that a good example of strategic innovation is the new American Express® Gold Credit Card with ID Keeper, which combines marketing and technology innovation.  The ID Keeper Card provides security for online shopping where Cardmembers can store their favourite URLs, log-in, and other personal data.

Titled ‘Reaching the Top of your Market’, Mr Stokes’ address also gave delegates an insight on the importance of customer segmentation, as well as the opportunity presented by e-commerce.  He also ventured the opinion that the popularity of debit cards as a payment method will be short-lived.

“While Debit Cards are convenient, using them also means that funds exit consumer bank accounts earlier than they need to,” explained Trevor Stokes.  “As consumers begin to understand this more, we believe the popularity of Debit Cards will decrease leaving the way open for other payment solutions that retain funds in consumer bank accounts longer.”

Cards Middle East 2006 is the region's flagship event for the payments industry. Held annually, the event provides a platform for exploring strategies that will expand Card penetration in the region.

About American Express:
American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network Services Company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travellers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business services, insurance and international banking.

AMEX (Middle East) B.S.C. (c) - AEME established its presence in the Middle East in 1959 and set up its first office in Bahrain in 1979. In 1992, American Express became a joint venture company owned by Mawarid Investment Limited and American Express.

Operating in 18 markets in the Middle East and North Africa region, AEME issues dollar currency Credit and Charge Cards: Personal (Green), Gold, Platinum as well as Company and Corporate Cards. Since 2001, with the introduction of its first local currency Credit Card in the United Arab Emirates, AEME has been introducing a range of local currency Credit Cards across the region.

American Express Cards are accepted at millions of locations in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Amex (Saudi Arabia) Limited was established in 1999 as a joint venture company equally owned by Amex (Middle East) E.C. and the Saudi Investment Bank. It owns and operates the American Express Card and Merchant business in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Investment Bank is a Saudi Arabian joint stock company established in 1976. Amex (Middle East) E.C. is a Bahrain joint venture company equally owned by Mawarid Holding Company and the American Express Company.



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