‘Relevance and Vibrancy are two levers in our business’: 5 questions with American Express’ Mohammed Badi

  • American Express recently launched Business Link, a B2B payments ecosystem.
  • We asked the firm's Mohammed Badi, head of the network business, about what it means and more.

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‘Relevance and Vibrancy are two levers in our business’: 5 questions with American Express’ Mohammed Badi

Mohammed Badi is head of American Express’s global network business. He spoke at our Power of Payments conference last year and was a recent guest on our podcast to discuss the launch of the firm's Business Link B2B payments network.

5 questions with Mohammed Badi of American Express

American Express has reached parity with the other card networks over the past few years. What levers do you have in the business?

Mohammed Badi, American Express: Our levers are more issuers and more acquirers around the world on the American Express network, so that we have even more merchants and more Amex cards in card members’ hands to spend at those merchants. There are two concepts that we use quite a bit within our business. One is of scaling and relevance, so increasing the scale and relevance of the American Express network. And then the other is vibrancy – we're looking to, in every geography, drive a vibrant network for American Express. So lots of card members showing up at lots of merchants and spending.

How is Amex aligned internally to be able to deliver globally?

We're the classic matrix. As a network business, we've got geographies – North America, Latin America, EMEA, and then AIPAC – and then the orthogonal axis is product and marketing and then partner solutions and integration. We've got two different teams. And so whenever we look at any geography, it is a combination of the business development and partner teams within the geography, and then the orthogonal of the product team, or any team, and then the teams that work with our partners to actually get the partners live on their network.

You recently launched a card with Simon Malls. What's that all about?

This was actually a super fun one. It's through one of our other partners, Cardless, which is a fintech that we've been working with. They are a program manager. And this is a digital first co brand with Simon Malls. And the idea is that it was an easy path to market for Simon Malls partnering with Amex and Cardless to be able to bring their value proposition to market. This is simply loyal Simon Mall shoppers using a Simon American Express card to earn valuable rewards with their shopping.

The thought is: this is the right time. There was a decrease in face to face, point of sale spending as we went through the pandemic. As we come out of the pandemic, the view is as well, where we were seeing in our data where people are going back out and they're spending. Ecommerce continues to grow. But the growth in face to face spending has actually been even higher. 

What is Amex Business Link?

 I think of it as a B2B payments ecosystem that we offer to our bank partners, issuers, and acquirers, so that they can bring a superior value proposition to their business customers. 

It's a platform that offers digital onboarding of buyers and suppliers for bank partners. It offers them lending solutions, as well. So when a buyer is making a transaction with a supplier, if the payment terms that the buyer and supplier would like are different, the bank can come in and actually offer lending, so you now have an additional revenue source for them. And then hopefully, over time, it will actually drive more commercial customers to our big partners. So that's what's in it for network issuers, acquirers, and our bank partners.

The end customer value prop, which is the buyers and suppliers of that bank. Our view is that Business Link will bring more flexibility to those businesses. They will be able to manage their invoices, they'll be able to manage their accounts payable or accounts receivable, the ability to choose how to pay, they can do card transactions or non card payments, as well. That's an important feature of Amex Business Link. They'll be able to make local and cross border transactions, they'll be able to connect seamlessly to their ERP systems, and then they'll have the standard reporting and reconciliation, as well.

What are you doing to target Gen Z customers?

We have tilted the value proposition of our products to resonate well with younger people. Take our proprietary cards, offering streaming discounts, mobile phone discounts for a period of time, a lot of the travel benefits – they really work well with that population. So we've tilted the brand slightly to resonate well with millennials and Gen Z. And as we've thought about our fintech proposition within the network, we've found a similar set of behaviors, where the products that we are bringing to market are resonating well.

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