American Express also revealed Tuesday morning that National Westminster has agreed to issue a new personal AmEx credit card next year within NatWests U.K. market. Details of the product have not been fully developed but plans are to have the new bank-issued American Express card out within twelve months. While somewhat premature, yesterdays announcement was a clear signal to VISA and MasterCard that AmEx will pursue every channel to get bank-issued AmEx cards in the hands of consumers, hopefully U.S. consumers. AmEx, VISA and MasterCard are currently embroiled in a lawsuit over the structure and marketing of the new Advanta Rewards Accelerator program which links AmEx cards to VISA and MasterCards.
American Express Co. and NatWest today announced an agreement wihich allows NatWest to issue cards that operate on the Amex global merchant network. The first of these products in the UK, a personal credit card, will be launched in 1997.
The new strategic partnership will help both organisations to develop a long-term competitive advantage by combining NatWest’s strength as a mass market card issuer, with American Express’ global merchant network.
Commenting on the new relationship, Jonathan S. Linen, Vice Chairman, American Express Comapny, said, “We are delighted that NetWest has chosen us as a strategic partner to issue its cards on the Amex network. This is a major step forward in our strategy to open our network to other card issuers and provide freedom of choice to banks and their customers.”
Patrick Boylan, Managing Director for Card Services, NatWest UK, said: “NatWest is at the leading edge of card development and this new partnership strengthens our commitment to providing innovative card products.”
He continued, “NatWest recognises teh unique strengths of the American Express brand and we are confident that this partnership will give us greater flexibility to develop successful solutions to meet our customers’ changing financial needs, both in the UK and as part of NatWest’s International Card strategy.
“The launch of the new UK credit card means NatWest customers will be able to benefit from the Amex worldwide network and this, coupled with NatWest’s distribution muscle in the UK, is a powerful combination.”
The new cards form part of the growing NatWest card portifolio, and will also be offered through prominent retailers. They will carry the NatWest name and logo, together with the familiar American Express blue box symbol, and will enable customers to use the global Amex network which continues to expand rapidly – a new merchant signs up every thirty seconds.
In a simultanieous annoucement in New York, plans were unveiled for a NatWest-issued United Airlines corporate card that operates on the Amex network. The card, which will be marketed to large and medium sized companies in the U.S., will act as a cost control tool for corporate travel expenses. It will also be introduced in 1997.