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American Express launches OptBlue to boost card acceptance
Wed, 20th Dec 2023

American Express has launched OptBlue, a new merchant acquiring system designed to accelerate the acceptance of American Express cards among small merchants in Australia. This initiative is set to increase the number of merchants onboarding onto the American Express Network by collaborating with two of Australia's leading merchant acquirers, Fiserv and Tyro Payments.

The OptBlue programme has been developed to provide equitable processing rates for American Express card transactions as with other card schemes. It aims to streamline the boarding process for merchants by offering an all-in-one servicing solution. This includes a single statement and settlement process along with a unique onboarding journey and servicing contact for all card types.

Vice President of Merchant Acquisition for American Express Australia and New Zealand, Stacey Rylands, expressed that expanding card acceptance had been a priority goal, and the introduction of OptBlue to the Australian market highlights significant advancements in increasing their merchant network's scale. She stated, "The launch of OptBlue in Australia is set to supercharge the scale of our merchant Network and once and for all help put an end to the question: do you accept Amex? at the checkout."

Rylands also conveyed that this development is a win for both cardholders and small businesses, highlighting the advantage for businesses drawing high-spending customers. "Amex Card Members who on average, spend 3.4 times more annually than non-Card Members and 2.4 times more per purchase," Rylands noted.

OptBlue was first introduced in the U.S before extending to Canada and Mexico, resulting in significant merchant coverage growth. As a result, 99% of establishments accepting credit cards in the U.S can accept American Express. Similarly, over the last year in Australia, 136,000 new locations were included in the American Express Network, with retail and dining sectors seeing the most significant gains.

Representatives from the merchant acquirers involved also expressed their eagerness in this partnership. Dominic White, Chief Product Officer at Tyro Payments, mentioned their long-standing commitment to simplifying payment acceptance with effective solutions for Australian businesses. And Gavin Jones, Fiserv General Manager, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, stated that the extension of their ongoing partnership with American Express through the OptBlue programme would provide merchant clients a better way to process Amex Card transactions.

Once onboarded, merchants will gain access to American Express's global marketing engine, as well as tools and services designed to help them flourish, such as offers and promotions. The OptBlue program is deemed a giant leap towards transforming the experience for customers and making it easier for American Express Card Members to shop small.