American Express Cards Again Accepted In Cook Islands

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

AMEX pulled services after BSP takeover of Westpac last summer

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 6, 2016) – American Express (Amex) is back in business in the Cook Islands after suspending its operations in June last year.

American Express cards were unable to be used in this country following Bank of South Pacific’s (BSP) acquisition of Westpac in June 2015.

The move caused an outcry, with Pacific Resort general manager Greg Stanaway saying that global brand giant American Express had been "unprofessional and uninterested."BSP country manager, David Street, said the bank had been aware the market was hoping for the return of American Express card acceptance in this country.

"We have been working collaboratively to have the service available to our customers.

"We are excited to announce that Amex merchant acceptance has resumed as at March 14 in the Cook Islands, initially with a manual process.

The bank apologised for any inconvenience that had been caused by the absence of Amex facilities, Street said.

"We are working towards achieving full automated merchant acceptance for Amex cards as soon as is practical."

When American Express discontinued its operation last year, a number of businesses made their displeasure known to the bank.

At the time Street said part of the process of BSP purchasing the operations of Westpac had involved American Express transferring card acquiring services from Westpac to BSP. It was up to Amex was to complete the process. He described the problem as a "…temporary discontinuance of card-acquiring services."

Restoration of the service means visitors to the Cook Islands will be able pay for services using American Express cards. However the bank will not be issuing new cards to local customers.

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