American Express considers B2B e-commerce to be their single largest growth opportunity in the 21st Century, hoping to reap the great majority of supplier and buyer payment system contracts in the region.
Addressing a press conference for journalists from around the Asia-Pacific region, Libby Roy, vice president of B2B e-commerce for American Express Asia Pacific said current market cynicism hadn't soured the company's taste for opportunities in the B2B space.
Roy believes there is room for consolidation in the B2B market, with many of the 750-plus exchanges set up in the Asia-Pacific region having little chance for survival. She cited the closure of failed exchanges run by Dell Computer, Chevron and Chemdex, as examples of such consolidation.
Roy said there were several challenges needing to be addressed for B2B to live up to market expectations. Naturally, she believes these can be overcome using American Express' corporate purchasing solutions.
"From my perspective, no transaction is truly an on-line purchase unless the payment and reconciliation process takes place on-line as well," she said. "B2B e-commerce will suffer am unnecessary drag until payment can be brought fully on-line and integrated seamlessly into the procurement process."
One month ago, American Express Asia Pacific signed a partnership agreement with B2B software vendor Ariba, in line with the two companies' agreement in the US. In addition, the payments company has now signed an agreement with Singapore-based exchange TX123.
"As a company American Express has been in operation for 150 years, but this is one old dog intent on learning new tricks," said Roy. "We have jumped with both feet into the Internet economy."
Photograph: Libby Roy, vice president of B2B e-commerce for AMEX.