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The Japanese unit of American Express Co. wants to double its profit and market share by attracting owners of small companies as customers and increasing partnerships with other card issuers, its president said Wednesday.

“We don’t have a time frame, but we want to double both profit and market share,” American Express International Inc. President Seiji Kiyohara told a group of journalists at a Tokyo hotel.

In Japan, cash is still the dominant transaction method, but the conversion from cash to card is growing at 5 percent a year. “Of course, we want to grow a greater percentage than that,” Kiyohara said.

Japan is a “very rare” developed country where the transaction volume for credit cards has been steadily on the rise, he added.

In one of its expansion efforts, American Express International aims to cash in on small-business owners and the self-employed because they spend about three or four times as much as ordinary individuals, he said.

“They fit the ideal profiles of our potential customer,” Kiyohara said. “They can also use a credit card to procure products and fly abroad with the points they earn.”

Kiyohara was appointed as president in September after working for Sumitomo Chemical Co., GE Capital and, most recently, Nissan Motor Co.

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