American Express Co. is about to heat up the competition for small- business dollars.
The New York-based company is expected to unveil new small- business offerings Tuesday, leveraging its position as a dominant provider of small-business financial services.
The new products include two types of unsecured revolving credit cards and unsecured lines of credit.
The charge-card company also is entering small-business lease financing, and will offer specialized financial management services and a Web site containing advice and marketing information.
American Express, with a customer base of 1.5 million small companies, is hoping to gain a greater share of their wallets while attracting new business.
Company spokeswoman Nancy Muller said this is the firm's first step toward becoming a full-service provider to small businesses.
Small businesses "really want to get services from one source rather than go shopping around for them," she said.
The track record of American Express - the dominant provider of small-business corporate cards - and its huge data base position it to become a fearsome competitor for banks, industry sources said.
"These represent broadsides from American Express against the more traditional banking and leasing companies," said Les Dinkin, managing principal of NBW Consulting Group in Westport, Conn.
"This could be a stellar opportunity for them," said Allan C. Bloomquist, senior vice president for Oxxford Information Technology. 'The world is still wide open."
There have been portents that American Express was going to go after the small-business niche in ways other than its charge cards. Since early this year it has been experimenting with lines of credit, leasing, and revolving credit cards.
Ms. Muller said the offerings will be similar to the prototypes.
For example, American Express will team up with another company in providing leasing services, just as it collaborated with Advanta during the experimental stage, Ms. Muller said. She would not identify the new partner.
And American Express will team up with two unidentified banks in providing lines of credit. This year it worked with Banc One Corp., Columbus, Ohio, on such a project. American Express has tested revolving credit cards. Of the two cards it plans to offer, one will be cobranded with Delta Airlines.