MainStreet.com sat down with Richard Quigley, president of the Business Card segment at JPMorgan Chase's Card Services, to talk about the company’s new portfolio of small business credit cards launched at the Inc. 500/5000 conference outside of Washington last week. Quigley came to JPMorgan (Stock Quote: JPM) in May 2009 from American Express (Stock Quote: AXP). Below are highlights of the interview:
MainStreet: You said in a recent interview that “we’re starting to see a real stabilization” in the economy and you see this as a harbinger of a turnaround. What signs of stabilization in the small business market do you see?
Richard Quigley: Some of them are sort of macroeconomic signs in terms of the GDP bouncing back and stabilization in terms of housing starts. Even some of the projections for unemployment, while assuming it’s going to increase a bit from here, it’s not going to increase tremendously. I think there’s a confluence of a lot of different signs that show a bit of a light on the horizon.
MS: How did you figure out what kind of cards would appeal to small businesses and when to launch them?
RQ: We believe that there are business cycles. There are some rough patches, but they inevitably start to get better. We saw that there are about 27 million small businesses across the United States and that they were growing rapidly. That 27 million was about twice what it was as recently as 2000. It’s this combination of being an enormous market that’s growing very rapidly combined with one other thing. It didn’t seem that most other banks were crafting products that were really designed for small businesses. They were consumer products that were labeled as a small business product. It became increasingly evident just how different small businesses are in their needs vs. the needs of consumers. It seemed that there was a real opportunity to step forward and design products for this underserved segment.
MS: It’s no secret that credit has been very tight for everyone, and especially small businesses. I read a statistic that business credit cards are increasing by 27% a year. Do you think that’s a reflection of business owners having a harder time getting bank loans and so are turning to credit cards to finance their business?
RQ: I didn’t see that particular study but I do think that small business owners have taken it on the chin in the last couple of years in terms of the economy and the impacts that it has had on them. While I think small businesses tend to, in most recessions, get disproportionately hit by the effects of the recession, they are also the group that most quickly embraces the recovery. Because I think part of the way the recovery happens is that through the optimism and drive and passion that small business owners naturally have.