GE Capital Services Corp. plans to become the first U.S.-based company to enter the corporate-card market north of the border.
The MasterCard-branded product will be issued by a 10-year-old affiliate, GE Capital Canada.
"Our goal is deliver as much value to the Canadian market and to deliver it with good quality," said Mitchell Gross, vice president, marketing, with GE Capital Corporate Expense Management Services in Stamford, Conn.
The card initially will be limited to travel and entertainment uses, but purchasing-card options are expected to be added in the future.
Mr. Gross said the unit of General Electric Co. is "focused on providing payment systems within regions where there are global opportunities for large corporations and organizations.'
The Stamford-based company, which issues consumer cards through a bank in Cincinnati and the corporate cards from a bank in Utah, already has more than one million private-label cards in Canada.
GE Capital already issues commercial cards in the United States, United Kingdom, and Republic of Ireland.
GE Capital's contacts in Canada provide "an open door for MasterCard to jointly introduce corporate cards," said Michele Turkel, president of Spectrum International Consulting Corp. in Scarsdale, N.Y.
Mr. Gross declined to cite volume numbers, but said growth for GE Capital's corporate card program has been "phenomenal" and "well beyond the company's expectations."
The card will first be piloted to GE's businesses in Canada.
The card will be silver-gray in color and customized with each partner's logo in the background, said Neal McGarity, spokesman for GE Capital Services.
MasterCard said that the corporate card market represents an $80 billion industry worldwide.
Canada is a terrific market for anyone, said Ms. Turkel. "Direct mail in Canada is relatively new and the response rates are usually twice what they are in the United States."
"Amex had almost the entire corporate card market for so many years," said Ms. Turkel, "but Visa and MasterCard programs are doing so well that I think it is possible to expect their business cards to make a dent in Amex's hold on the market."