As the Asian economy crawls back to health, there has been much focus on the health of Hong Kong's Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). And rightly so, with the SAR having some 290,000 SMEsáthat constitute over 98% of business establishments, and contributing to 60% of GDP.
The Hong Kong Productivity Council and American Express revealed in a recent survey some of the business habits of SMEs. Not surprisingly, it found SMEs have comparatively little leverage in negotiating with suppliers for everyday business purchases.
SMEs spend on average HK$40,000 or more each month on these expenses, and 89% of SMEs surveyed expect these costs to remain stable or increase within the next 12 months.
Alongside the survey results, American Express has launched its Business Card, touted as the only card in Hong Kong designed specifically for SMEs. This new charge card has no pre-set spending limit and gives members access to discounts from Amex partners for day-to-day business expenses, e-commerce, and business travel to China.
This is rather a brave move from Amex, given the survey also revealed that 92% of SMEs use cheques as their main payment method.
But John Steward, American Express vice-president and general manager in Hong Kong, is optimistic this tailored product will change the payment landscape for SMEs.
"We know that SMEs are looking for a product that helps them improve their profitability ... currently, there is no other card in the market dedicated to SMEs."