American Express (NYSE:AXP) might soon be the owner of ambitious young fintech company Kabbage. According to a report published Wednesday by Bloomberg, citing "a person familiar with the matter," American Express is in "advanced talks" to purchase the company.

The price tag could be as much as $850 million, said Bloomberg's source. A deal could be reached and announced to the public by the end of August.

Both American Express and Kabbage officials declined to offer comment on the matter when contacted by Bloomberg.

A stack of payment cards.

Image source: Getty Images.

Privately held Kabbage is an essentially online lender that focuses on small businesses. It also offers checking accounts tailored for small businesses through a partnership with Green Dot's Green Dot Bank.

The small business sector has been badly affected by the economic slowdown engendered by the coronavirus pandemic. As these entities frequently lack the resources and financial strength of their larger peers, they are more vulnerable to the closures and steep declines in customer traffic caused by the outbreak.

By extension, Kabbage has struggled with its own business. As the pandemic started to spread, the company furloughed many employees and suspended client credit lines.

American Express is already quite active in the small business segment, as it is the No. 1 issuer of credit cards to such enterprises. Top company executives have made very positive statements recently about small businesses. For instance, CEO Steve Squeri observed that among enterprise types, they have been the "most resilient" during the outbreak.

Investors might not be so convinced Kabbage is a good fit. In mid-afternoon trading on Wednesday, American Express shares were down by 1.9% in contrast to the gains of the top stock market indexes.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.