How American Express is building loyalty in a digital world

Stephen Whiteside

Only a few years ago, paying for products involved making a simple decision between using cash or a card. Today, by contrast, a consumer could just as easily remove a smartphone from their pocket and tap an in-store transmitter – or, indeed, not bother going to a store at all.

But for Ken Chenault, the CEO of financial-services giant American Express, how money ultimately changes hands does not alter the firm's fundamental mission – namely, to be the number one choice for shoppers, whether they are retrieving a card from a billfold, saving their details on Amazon or storing them in a mobile wallet.

"There's not a dramatic difference, frankly, between saying, 'I want to be the first card in the wallet' and 'I want to have Amex as my default card option'," he told delegates at the M1 Mobile-First Summit. "What's critical is the benefits, the service [and] the innovation that we provide our customers so that we're first card in the wallet."