American Express partners with Commbank to double its uptake among small businesses

By Roisin Kelly-Goldsmith ·

Only 38% of Australian businesses process Amex transactions according to market research firm East and Partners, indicating that a significant number of small businesses are reluctant to offer their customers the payment option.

With RBA figures suggesting that some Amex merchant fees exceed 3% per transaction - while MasterCard and Visa charge around 33% less even with their most premium credit cards - one can easily see why American Express isn’t widely offered in the land down under.  

However, the credit card giant is attempting to double its acceptance rates over the next two years among small businesses by launching a new, joint partnership with the Commonwealth Bank and promising to roll out merchant fee reductions.

“We want to make it a lot easier for merchants to accept American Express," Amex spokesperson, Katrina Konstas told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that for some businesses, that will mean a whole percentage point reduction.

CommBank has also recently announced that American Express services will be included in the major bank’s “Simple Merchant Plan,” meaning small business who opt in no longer have to compete with big businesses on Amex pricing packages.

“Consumers want flexibility in the way they pay for goods and services and by adding American Express we are now providing small businesses with card payment options at the same rate,” explained Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager Business Banking, Claire Roberts.

“So including American Express pricing in our existing merchant plan means our business customers can easily broaden their card acceptance for their customers.”

While merchants may welcome Amex’s pledge to improve its pricing, Mozo’s Product Data Manager Peter Marshall said he’s interested to see how lower fees will play out on the consumer side.

“It’s possible that American Express will look at reducing the value of its reward programs for cardholders to make up for the lower fee revenue,” he said.

“But I don’t see that happening if Amex wants to remain competitive. So for now, the fact they’ve made themselves more accessible is not only a good thing for small businesses, but consumers too.”

Thinking of getting an Amex card? See a side by side comparison of all American Express Credit Cards available.