MasterCard has announced a new entry into the complicated market of big institutions trying to deliver superior services to small businesses.
Many banks have proclaimed specialized small business offerings. but the new MasterCard Business Network, if it can leverage small business cardholders to achieve critical mass, may be a standout competitor. The new offering utilizes the Deem network platform of Rearden Commerce as well as MasterCard technology to support a set of three functional modules described by MasterCard as follows:
Purchase – Offers small and mid-size businesses exclusive discounts on more than 650,000 products delivered from national distributors, including office supplies, computers, construction and electrical needs.
Travel and Dining – Helps businesses manage their air, hotel and car rental bookings; create employee travel policies; review restaurant ratings; and make reservations, manage invitations and set dining preferences through OpenTable. Enables small and mid-size businesses to manage and enforce their travel policies.
Expense – Create, save and print basic expense reports for free. Businesses can upgrade for enhanced capabilities including the ability to import transaction data from MasterCard credit or debit cards and integrate scanned or uploaded receipts.
According to Ed Glassman, group executive, Global Commercial Products, MasterCard Worldwide:
“Smaller businesses don’t think of themselves as small, they just haven’t finished growing yet. Through one, integrated site, the MasterCard Business Network is designed to help them grow by delivering some of the critical infrastructure capabilities that can help them save time and money, whether they are purchasing supplies, booking travel, entertaining clients or simply trying to get a handle on their overall expense management.”
The combination of convenience, discounts, and superior data analysis could be a very sucessful platform with small businesses if the partners are able to spread the word and effectively sell their capabilities. As with many small business-targeted initiatives, that may be the Achilles heel: how to sell this? MasterCard has not described sales efforts, beyond the comment that network registration is available now to existing cardholders. The “Field of Dreams” marketing strategy: “If you build it, they will come.” Maybe.
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