Magazine article American Banker

Banc One and AMEX Join Forces to Offer Preapproved Credit Lines

Magazine article American Banker

Banc One and AMEX Join Forces to Offer Preapproved Credit Lines

Article excerpt

Banc One Corp., Columbus, Ohio, has teamed up with American Express Co. to test market a preapproved line of credit for small businesses.

For at least three months, the bank company's Dayton, Ohio, unit has used American Express customer data to identify prospects and solicit them by mail.

The project is a potentially formidable combination between two of the most sophisticated marketers of financial services. It is one of the few times American Express has worked in direct cooperation with a commercial bank.

Ohio competitors, already battling nonbanks like Merrill Lynch & Co. and out- of-state banks like Wells Fargo & Co., are nervous.

"They're getting to my customers," said a rival Ohio banker. "And for me to see it means there's a lot more of it out there."

American Express and officials of Bank One, Dayton, would not comment on details of the pilot program.

"It's still in the early stages," said Kevin S. Sanford, assistant vice president of sales and marketing for the Dayton bank. "Who knows what's going to happen?"

John Russell, chief communications officer for $90.5 billion-asset Banc One, said the product is just one of many the company is testing, including other preapproved credit lines.

Officials of the two companies wouldn't discuss who does what in the program. But Nancy Muller, vice president of public affairs for American Express, said the bank has been targeting holders of the company's small-business card.

"It's our customer base," she said.

American Express has 1.5 million small-business accounts.

"This is very interesting," said Les Dinkin, managing principal of NBW Consulting Group, Westport, Conn. "American Express has been very proprietary about the use of their brand name."

Another industry observer noted that the two financial heavyweights have had close relationships in the past. …

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