NEW YORK: American Express, the financial services group, is seeking to understand the rapidly-changing "commerce journey" as it aims to provide products that are truly valued by digitally-empowered consumers.

Ken Chenault, chief executive of American Express, discussed this theme at the M1 Mobile-First Summit, an event held in New York. And he forecast that the industry would continue to evolve at a dramatic pace.

"The payments industry and commerce are going through fundamental change. I think you are seeing a blurring of commerce, mobile, payments and a real convergence of online and offline," he said.

"I think you're clearly going to see a proliferation of mobile apps … I don't think digital wallets are over. I think social media is clearly going to play a role." (For more, including details of how Amex's is serving various groups of shoppers, read Warc's exclusive report: How American Express is building loyalty in a digital world.)

As such, while plastic cards are "not going to go away" in the near term at least, the rise of these connected shopping experience will demand a response from financial brands with an eye on the future.

"There are going to be those companies that stay in the status quo, and, in fact, are going to focus on facilitating payments. That is a mistake, because they will be reduced to a commodity," Chenault predicted.

"There will be those companies, in fact, who focus on the entire commerce journey, and what's the value-add that they can bring."

Any organisation hoping to fall into the latter category, he suggested, will need to appreciate the precise requirements of consumers.

"What's most important is to be driven by customer needs," Chenault said. "The key thing is to understand: what are the different elements of the commerce journey?"

Putting new technology before the needs of people, he added, has been "the mistake of a number of companies – both start-ups, big companies; traditional, non-traditional."

In reflection of the multichannel nature of today's consumers, spanning everything from physical stores to smartphones and tablets, American Express wants to have a presence on all relevant touchpoints.

"Our view is, we want to be where are customers are, we want to be able to deliver them benefits in a way that they want to have those benefits presented to them," said Chenault.

Data sourced from Warc