Payments Infrastructure


American Express
Power Score: 78.89 Momentum Score: 30.59 (5) HQ: New York, NY CEO: Stephen Squeri


Valuation: $132.4 billion (+75% YoY)

Amt. Raised: n/a


Lobbying Spend: $1,380,000

Industry Orgs: ETA


Headcount: 74,925 (+5% YoY)

Engineering Headcount: 6,534 (+4% YoY)

Big Tech Experience: 0.7%

Open Roles: 1,298


R&D Spending: n/a

Patents Applied For: 1,563

Patents Owned: 1,160

Acquisitions: Kabbage (August 2020)


Exec Team Exits: No

Diversity Data?: Yes

ESG/CSR Data?: Yes

On Power

American Express doesn't have the luxury of volume that Visa and Mastercard have as networks, but the company's approach to digital payments has kept it a leader in the space, especially as it has forged partnerships with newer-wave payments companies. AmEx's long-running partnership with PayPal evolved into Send & Split, which put the company in the P2P payments space.

The bread and butter for American Express is still commercial payments, and building on that was the second goal in its 2020 annual report. Overall, the company is the fourth-largest card network globally by purchase volume, and as the company continues to put an emphasis on signing up new merchants in global markets, it stands to continue its growth trajectory.

On Disruption

American Express is another company riding the crypto wave, investing in crypto trading platform FalconX at the tail end of 2020. Perhaps more consequentially in the near term, AmEx rolled out a small business checking account in what it calls a "broader integrated cash-flow management" strategy. It follows the company's acquisition of SMB lending platform Kabbage in 2020, and is part of a vision to build out a deeper set of products to keep customers within its network.

Tea Leaves

American Express has entered the "buy now, pay later" market with its Pay It Plan It offering. BNPL has been said to be a threat to the legacy card networks, but as the card networks themselves get into the market, it remains to be seen how the outlook could shift. It's not the only new market American Express is entering: The company is looking at financial planning as a new avenue, via a 2020 investment into BodesWell from Amex Ventures.

They Said It

"Developing our card processing network in mainland China has been a priority for us and we're pleased with our progress. Since getting the green light to start processing payments in China eight months ago, we have reached mobile wallet parity coverage through our partnerships — partnerships with China's major mobile wallet providers. And to date, we have added over 14 million merchants to the network at the point of sale." —American Express CEO Stephen Squeri in an April 2021 earnings call

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