The nation's 20 million small businesses have grown into the world's third largest economy after the United States and Japan.

Acting on an "irresistible" opportunity to profit from the spectacular growth in the small business market, a handful of the nation's major credit card issuers are lowering the bar on credit extension and adding to their product roster services that cater to small businesses' financial needs, including lending, leasing, money management, tax and accounting services. "Our belief in this market's future growth is what led us to a fundamental decision to aggressively grow our small business sector," says Steven W. Alesio, president of American Express small business services.

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