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The use of money has been in existence for around 5,000 years. Whereas, a standardized and authorized use of coins can be traced back to the 7th century. Only the form of currency has changed over the years, but the concept and system behind it have been anchored to society for thousands of years. People slowly evolved from barter systems to monetary transactions, which laid the foundation for today's globalization and international trade.
Despite this convenient system, people still feel some difficulties in carrying money on business or personal travel. As each country had its own currency, the exchange got difficult in the foreign land. There was also insecurity in carrying funds everywhere. As a result, there emerged financial institutions to simplify the process, which in turn introduced Traveler’s Cheques and Cards.
The world’s first traveller’s cheque was introduced in 1772 by the London Credit Exchange Company and the first credit card was brought in by the Diners Club in 1950. After this, the world of financial transactions was revolutionized. It made the system easy, simple, and secure. With just a single international card or cheque, you can make any transaction in any corner of the world.
American Express is one of those financial institutions that played a major role in reforming the industry. The company is most popular for its traveller's cheques and credit cards. It should've been a pioneer in card services by 1946, but didn't realize its possibility until Diners Club launched in 1950. American Express has an interesting origin story which is followed by its untiring enthusiasm toward technology and customer service.
Here's the success story of American Express that covers all about the company, including its startup story, team, business model, acquisitions, growth, and more.
American Express - Company Highlights
- Company Name-American Express
- Headquarters-New York, United States
- Industry-Banking and Financial Services
- CEO-Stephen J. Squeri
- Revenue-$42.4 billion (2021)
- Valuation-$114.77 billion (September 2022)
- Area Served-Worldwide
American Express - About
American Express, often referred to as Amex, is an American company that is involved in the business of payment card services and banking. It is one of the oldest American companies that was established in 1850. American Express makes the process of payments and money transactions safe, simple, and trustworthy for people from around the world.
Besides card services, this company also provides travel cheques, and individual and business banking services to its customers. The card network of American Express is one of the four largest credit card networks in the world that includes UnionPay, Visa, and MasterCard. American Express operates in over 110 countries that are managed from 55 office locations with more than 60,000 employees. Its global headquarters is situated in New York, United States.
American Express - Industry
The financial services sector is considered to be a crucial and highly significant industry. It is due to its control over the market and economy of a country. This industry includes banks, credit card companies, real estate businesses, accounting companies, stock dealers, insurance companies, and any other establishments that are involved in the management of money.
The industry has started adapting itself to technological advancements by implementing them in all its business operations. Also, numerous Fintech startups are emerging around the world with various innovations and solutions to problems. The growth of the industry can be known from the amount of investments received by the Fintech companies, which is over $210 billion in 2021.
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American Express - Team
The following are some of the key people who belong to the top management of American Express:
Stephen J. Squeri
Stephen J. Squeri is the Chairman and CEO of American Express since 2018. He has a very long history with the company. Steve is a part of American Express since 1985. He served in various administrative roles for over 37 years. Starting as a manager for the traveller’s cheque group, Steve was then given various roles to perform like, Vice President, President, Chief Information Officer, Vice Chairman, etc., until he was made the CEO in 2018. He graduated from Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Science and an MBA.
Doug Buckminster is another senior executive who joined the company in 1985. He currently heads American Express’s Global Consumer Services as President since 2018. He did his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration at Boston University and New York University respectively. Doug earlier served as the president of various regions of American Express.
Jeff Campbell is the company's Chief Financial Officer, in addition to his designation as Vice Chairman. He also serves as the CFO and an officer of American Express National Bank. Jeff Campbell has an extensive portfolio of work experience and it includes his services in Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, AMR Corp, American Airlines, McKesson Corporation, etc., He is an Economics graduate from Stanford University and did his MBA from Harvard University.
Anré Williams - CEO of American Express National Bank and Group President for Enterprise Services
Anré Williams - CEO of American Express National Bank and Group President for Enterprise Services
Anré Williams is the Group President for Enterprise Services in American Express. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of American Express National Bank. In short, it is said that Anré Williams looks after the management of two-thirds of the company's operation. He started his career in American Express in 1990 after he earned his BA from Stanford University and MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
American Express - Startup Story
American Express was started as a joint venture between Wells & Company, Livingston Fargo & Company, and Butterfield Wasson & Company. The three founders, Henry Wells, William G.Fargo, and John Warren Butterfield, came together to form a joint-stock corporation to carry out the business of express mail in Buffalo, New York in 1850. It wasn't planned to be a global financial giant like it is today. American Express kept expanding its mail services all over the US through ships and railroad companies.
It was only in 1857, that the company stepped into financial services through a money order business. Then came the concept of the 'Letter of Credit' which wasn't that successful. As a result, American Express 1891, introduced 'Traveller's Cheques' which became a huge success and made it an international company. Thus the company crafted its way into the financial sector and secured an undeniable spot through innovation and customer service.
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American Express - Mission and Vision
American Express has a mission to 'Become essential to its customers by providing differentiated products and services to help them achieve their aspirations.' The company wanted to give the best products to its customers by doing it in the right way and making it great. It focuses on "Providing the world's best customer experience every day" and it has, in turn, turned out to be the vision of American Express.
American Express - Name, Logo, and Tagline
It started as an express mail company to deliver goods and other materials in the US and hence the name, American Express. The logo of the company was changed four times since its inception. In the first 120 years, the name ‘American Express Co.’ was written in an old serif font on a white background and that remained the logo of the company for many years. Then, in 1974, it was entirely changed to a blue background with a blue font having a thick white outline. Ever since American Express has changed only the fade of blue but not the font.
The company's popular taglines include, “Don't Leave Home Without It”, “Don't live life without it”, and “Don't do business without it”.
American Express - Business and Revenue Model
The business model of American Express involves selling cards and providing merchant and business transactions across the world. Even today, the company offers various discounts and rewards to its customers which has a huge acceptance in the market. Most of the revenue for American Express comes from Card holders and merchant bankers. The other income flows in through interests, card fees, penalties, conversion fees, etc.,
American Express - Challenges Faced
American Express always charges a little more fees from its customers than the competitors to retain the premium standard of its brand. This has resulted in the loss of customers and merchants over the years. Finally, after years of consideration, the company decided to reduce the fees and charges and focus on widening the market.
On 23 April 2021, the RBI halted American Express from taking in new domestic customers from 1 May 2021. The governing finance body of India stated that the company had violated local data-storage rules which resulted in this restriction. In August 2022, RBI finally lifted the ban on American Express after the company complied with the central bank’s data localization and storage policy.
American Express - Shareholding
Since American Express has a long withstanding history of more than 170 years, its initial financial details are not clarified. But the company’s current ownership and financial activities are made visible to the public. 51.4% of the company's shares are held by institutional holders. Out of which, 20% of American Express shares are held by Berkshire Hathaway. It is a holding company that is under the management of Warren Buffet. Berkshire Hathaway holds the highest percentage of shares in American Express. 35.30% of shares are with the mutual fund holders and 0.86% of shares are with the individual stakeholders.
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American Express - Investments
Over the years, American Express has made over 35 investments in various companies. Of these investments, it has lead 8 of these funding rounds and has exited from over a dozen of its portfolio companies. Here are some of the recent investments made by American Express:
American Express - Competitors
The following companies are some of the top competitors for American Express in the area of card services:
Mastercard was started as a bank card associative's cooperative which had the main aim to fight the competitor Visa. Mastercard offers credit, debit and prepaid cards with good customer support and enhanced features to its users.
Visa is the second largest card payment network in the world and is considered to be one of the most valuable companies. It was established in 1958 by the Bank of America and was initially called BankAmericard. Visa provides card services to people through banks which in turn manage all the financial transactions of the users.
Discover Financial Services is a banking company that offers various financial services like loans, credit cards, savings accounts, etc., to its customers. This company owns Diners Club International which was the first one to introduce credit cards. It is known for its low-fee services and cash reward programs.
American Express - Future Plans
American Express is expecting an overall growth of around 20% in the current year. After exciting growth in revenue in the previous year, the company is projecting a further rise in its revenue.
This financial services company is also planning for hybrid, onsite, and virtual forms of work in the near future. Once implemented, the company’s working environment involves a few onsite employees who have some essential roles to be played from the office. Hybrid employees would work a few days from the office and the rest of the days at home while virtual employees can fully work from home.
Like many other companies, American Express is also running towards zero-carbon emissions in the upcoming years. The company believes that the low-carbon work environment would give it the sustainability in long term. Various programs have been launched toward this mission. American Express is committed to achieving the target of net-zero emissions by 2035.
What does American Express do?
American Express is a leading issuer of credit cards and business travel cards. The company also offers saving accounts, travel insurance, and other financial services making the process of payments and money transactions safe, simple, and trustworthy for people from around the world.
Is it hard to get approved for an Amex?
When compared to different issuers of credit cards, it is usually hard to get an Amex as all its credit card offers require a good or excellent credit score for approval.
Is Amex closing in India?
In August 2022, RBI finally lifted the ban that it had earlier imposed on Amex in April 2021 for the violation of local data-storage rules. This comes after American Express complied with the central bank’s data localization and storage policy.
What credit score do you need to get an American Express card?
You need a CIBIL score between 680-700 to get an American Express card. You may get difficulty in getting an Amex credit card if your credit score is lower than 700.