How American Express Digital Labs creates payments innovations

Getting out of the habit of building everything from scratch has proven highly effective and so has not expecting the company lab to be the sole source of innovation, invention and ideas. Outside partnerships prove valuable when you can put pride aside.

Historically American Express had a “build first” culture, preferring to invent its own wheels from scratch when a new idea came to mind. That’s how the strategy for Amex Digital Labs began too, until leadership gave that philosophy a hard rethinking. Did it really make sense?

“We were very much building things 90% of the time,” says Luke Gebb, EVP of Amex Digital Labs during a Banking Transformed podcast. “But now we follow a very diverse set of strategies to determine when we will build, when we will buy, and when we will partner.” The point, he says, is to remember that the value is to bring appropriate innovation to Amex members and merchants in a timely fashion and in a way that targets as many pain points as possible.

Reality Check: Pride of invention may have to be ditched.

A good example of this new approach to innovation came in the area of P2P payments.


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