Money & Banking

American Express adds 6 lakh new merchants since 2017

K R Srivats New Delhi | Updated on October 23, 2019 Published on October 23, 2019

File photo

Eyes 75 per cent acceptance among merchants in top 15 cities

American Express, the world’s largest card issuer by purchase volumes, aims to find acceptance for its cards in at least 75 per cent of all the merchants in the 15 top cities of the country that it is currently focused on, a top official said.

“The aspiration for us is that we really want to be accepted in almost all the locations in the 15 premium cities we are focused on. The best scenario for us will be 100 per cent acceptance, but in the short term we aspire to be accepted in at least 75 per cent of the places over the next year,” Anurag Gupta, Vice President & Head, Global Merchant Services, American Express told BusinessLine.

Gupta said that American Express has, since 2017, aggressively expanded its merchant coverage in India, adding six lakh new merchants. The growth across the country was driven by increased demand from tier 1 and tier 2 cities where American Express card members want to spend, he said.

This includes categories such as online merchants, utilities, insurance, hospitals, retail, grocery stores and fuel stations.

“Our numbers (merchants added) have gone up eight to nine times in the last four years. That’s the kind of growth Amex has seen in comparison to anyone else in the market. Growth has been phenomenal for us. While growth has been 35 per cent for industry, it has been upwards of 50 per cent year-on-year for us,” he said.

He also said that Amex has been entering into partnerships with major banks to drive coverage for its cards.

Not just the top 15 cities, even those beyond it across the country now accept Amex cards. “It’s the top 15 where our focus is because that’s where our card members are. We want to be accepted among the small merchants space as well in these top 15 cities,” he said.

Traditionally, Amex has been accepted across the board in the premium space. The challenge has been the small merchants space and that’s where the endeavour has been over the last four-five years and where growth is coming from, Gupta said. “The numbers you are looking at (six lakh) is predominantly small merchants,” he said.

Asked if demonetisation — announced by the government in November 2016 — had played a role in the increase in merchants onboarded in last three years, Gupta said that as an industry a lot of merchants who were not accepting any form of digital payments have now come on board.

“For American Express, it (growth of merchants) is a function of two things — one, the new merchants that have come on board, and the fact that our coverage is also expanding. Besides proprietary sales force, we have also entered into partnerships with major banks and that is driving coverage for us,” he said.

Amex has enabled card acceptance in many new categories to displace cash-spend. “We are targeting sectors such as government payments, education and health care, to provide our card-members even more places to use their cards and do business with more merchants,” he said.

Some of the major new categories signed up by American Express in India this year include: premium mobile phone stores, key tourist attractions, transport service providers, luxury accessory retailers, new online retailers and online payment gateways and aggregators.

Published on October 23, 2019
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor