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American Express goes to market

The company backs online marketplace MarketMile, which sells office products, industrial supplies, computers and business services.

American Express-backed online marketplace MarketMile is open for business.

The marketplace, developed by American Express and business software company Ventro, allows companies to buy office products, industrial supplies, computers and business services from suppliers.

The site also offers online payment methods and content management services, which analysts say bridges a gap found in other marketplaces. Although many businesses go online for buying and selling, payment is usually handled offline--with companies waiting for purchase orders to be verified, approved and processed before approval, which slows the transaction.

"I think the model they have built with American Express closes the loop with expense management and financials tools," said Timothy Minihan, an analyst at the Aberdeen Group. "And they have one heck of a sales and marketing channel through American Express as well."

American Express owns the majority of MarketMile, or just under 50 percent of the venture, with the rest of the ownership split between Ventro and eVolution Global Partners, a joint investment venture between Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bain and Texas Pacific Group.

The new company will initially target midsized companies, with plans to eventually extend its services to large and small businesses.