During seven years as an MBNA Corp. executive, David W. Nelms helped launch a platinum card as well as an operation in the United Kingdom.
Now, as president and chief operating officer of the Discover card organization, Mr. Nelms has just introduced a platinum card. Also, he said last week, Discover will be going "to at least one additional country next year."
Mr. Nelms, who took over from Thomas R. Butler at Discover Financial Services on Sept. 21, was responsible for raising the profile of the Discover brand and signing up cardholders.
In October, the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. unit announced it was changing the division's name from Novus Services Inc. to Discover Financial Services. The Novus acceptance mark has not been dropped, but the brand is being downplayed.
Mr. Nelms said he anticipates adding a "significantly higher number" of new accounts in the coming year and to "increase the activity" of customers.
Discover is also working to build up its network of retailers and recently signed Nordstrom, Mr. Nelms said.
"We're adding in excess of 300,000 new merchants a year," he said.
"We are already much more widely accepted than American Express in the United States, but we still have to add some other merchants who currently accept only MasterCard and Visa."
The company is also hoping the new platinum card, which will be advertised on television starting Wednesday, will prompt consumers to switch to Discover.
"Many of the other platinum offers aren't as differentiated from gold or standard as this one is," Mr. Nelms said. Discover Platinum will give 1% cash back and certain merchants will give an additional 1% cash back. It will have higher lines of credit than some other cards, Mr. Nelms said.
Another distinguishing factor is Discover's "on-line credit card Web site, with some home banking and a network of on-line merchants," he said.
An American Express Co. spokeswoman, Gail Wasserman, said the benefits of the new platinum offering sounded substantially similar to those of other Discover products, with the merchant contribution as the sole twist.
"I can't say I feel threatened by that," she said. "We have been known as the market leader in platinum cards since we came out with ours in 1984."