Exploring the Small Business Card Mobile Landscape

by on Mar 21, 2013

This article originally appeared in the ABA Banking Journal.

In a recent Small Business Card Monitor (SBCM) research report, we examined the mobile capabilities leading firms offer small business cardholders with a focus on native apps for smartphones and tablets as well as mobile-supported websites. We were happy to see that 88% of firms we cover give small business cardholders the opportunity to manage their accounts while on the go.

When it came to these mobile platforms, we noticed that some firms in our universe excel in providing key account services, such as lengthy transaction histories and flexible payment capabilities. As for tablet apps, we noticed a majority of the firms extend the same services available on a smartphone. By contrast, American Express stood out with its more enhanced account capabilities on its tablet apps.

Real estate’s there–use it!
While six of our eight covered firms offer tablet apps (iPad and, in some cases, Android tablets), we were immediately impressed by how American Express uses the extra space on tablets to better help business cardholders look at not only their account but employee accounts.

The firm offers a lengthier transaction archive, more filter options, illustrations on transactions, and rewards, as well as detailed information about activities, well beyond what is available on a smartphone. Small business cardholders can filter transactions from the past 24 months by cardholder, spending category, or time period, with options to sort them in descending/ascending order.

Cardholders can also view a pie chart that shows spending by category, such as Business Services and Transportation. Additionally, cardholders enrolled in the Amex Membership Rewards program can see via their tablet apps how much they have earned and used over time through bar graphs.


The American Express iPad App includes many features, including the Card Activities Graph
Account data visualizations are helpful, but there are other ways to present account activity effectively. Chase and Discover offer the lengthiest archive of 24 months on mobile devices, with Discover offering various filter options to help sort through this extensive archive. One filter option that is beneficial to business clients is the ability to narrow transactions by employee cards, an option offered by American Express.

As for payment capabilities, Capital One and U.S. Bank excel with their payment options, as they not only allow clients to schedule one-time payments but recurring payments as well. The payments can be made from either bank accounts already saved in the app or through a new external/internal bank account.

Broadening the mobile menu
Unique services also found in mobile devices by select firms were the ability to manage account alerts, add/remove accounts, and obtain merchant offers. For the latter feature, American Express and U.S. Bank provide an offers section on their mobile apps, though American Express is the only firm to allow clients to seamlessly add a merchant offer to their card. American Express and Chase also offer separate mobile apps that better assist clients with account management, though these standalone apps play a greater role when linked to the cardholders’ online account.

American Express’ MatchReceipt app allows card members to store and organize receipts, which are matched to corresponding transactions on the user’s online statement. Chase’s Jot app, a mobile expense tracker app, allows clients to categorize purchases to custom tags and create expense reports.

Capital One iPhone App includes multiple payment capabilities.
Firms can find more differentiation yet
Overall, it was reassuring to see that each of the study firms with a mobile presence offers fundamental capabilities–account information and payment services–through a mobile device. The firms that stood out did so by expanding on those basics. American Express in particular offers more than the standard services via their tablet apps–spending and rewards visualizations, transaction details and filters, etc. Capital One offers a robust payment center and Discover offers a lengthy, filterable transaction archive. Other firms like American Express offer additional services, such as allowing clients to redeem merchant offers and add/remove and activate cards.

With those leaders in mind, we hope to see more firms expand their range of account services on tablet and mobile devices, possibly allowing clients to redeem merchant offers, manage employee cards’ spending limits, or create expense reports all in one app. It would be nice to also see “picture snapshot” capabilities.

After all, bank account holders can deposit checks via a snapshot, so could business cardholders perhaps pay their card via a check image? Time will tell what lies ahead in this expanding slice of the mobile banking industry.