Two users AmEx: cheque it out

American Express is shaking up the traveller's cheque market with a major product innovation, Travellers Cheques for Two.Cheques for Two feature two signature lines, one for each of two authorized users.The cheques are cashable by either of the authorized parties with...

American Express is shaking up the traveller’s cheque market with a major product innovation, Travellers Cheques for Two.

Cheques for Two feature two signature lines, one for each of two authorized users.

The cheques are cashable by either of the authorized parties with only one signature, so they give users greater flexibility and convenience when travelling.

AmEx launched the product in the u.s. in May and intends to introduce it in Canada on Dec. 1.

The company will begin marketing Cheques for Two to consumers on Jan. 4 with a national print campaign.

The print campaign, created by Echo Advertising & Marketing, will run for eight weeks and will be bolstered at some point by tv advertising picked up from the u.s.

Sandra McInnis, AmEx’s director of marketing on traveller’s cheques, says Cheques for Two is a product improvement that grew out of consumer research first undertaken in 1988.

At that time, AmEx in the u.s. was experimenting with a product called Gold Cheque that combined a traveller’s cheque with home and auto insurance and also offered a dual-signature feature.

McInnis says market research indicated consumers had little use for the insurance, but liked the idea of traveller’s cheques offering duel authorization.

AmEx is hoping Cheques for Two will generate a market share increase for its traveller’s cheques.

Various reports suggest Canadians spend between $3.5 billion and $3.9 billion annually on traveller’s cheques.

According to figures supplied by the Thomas Cook Group, issuer of Mastercard, AmEx’s market share in 1991 was 46%, with Visa at 31% and Mastercard at 23%.

Thomas Cook’s market projections for 1992 show AmEx dropping to 43%, with competitors Visa and Mastercard each gaining two points.

Martin Chillcott, senior vice-president of marketing for Thomas Cook, says he expects AmEx’s market share losses to continue, since the five major banks and an increasing number of the larger trust companies have aligned themselves with either Mastercard or Visa.