American Express plans enhanced online services

American Express plans to exploit developments in single-sign-on technology to offer its credit card customers advanced financial...

American Express plans to exploit developments in single-sign-on technology to offer its credit card customers advanced financial services over the web.

The move will allow the company to make significant savings on customer support and helpdesk services, and will generate new revenue streams for the firm.

American Express announced the move after the Liberty Alliance, a group of 150 suppliers, government organisations and financial institutions, gave the first practical demonstration of services based on its ID management standards last week.

Michael Barrett, vice-president of internet strategy at American Express, said the firm plans to deploy technology based on the Liberty standards across its intranet over the next 12 months, before extending it to customer services on the web.

"We have a large and sprawling corporate intranet which has pieces that are inside Amex and parts that are outsourced, as well as legacy operations. We are using Liberty Alliance as a binding to bring that all together and to provide interoperability," he said. "We are looking at a relatively short return on investment."

The company said it expects to make significant savings in customer support costs by using the same ID management technology to give its customers single-sign-on access to its web services.

"We have some issues with AmericanExpress.Com. A lot of the infrastructure that runs it is in our own company. Approximately 70% of it runs on Amex Services, with 25% to 30% provided by outsourced service providers. We want to bind this together into a single system with a single sign-on," he said.

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