Interview with Ralph Kaiser, President, CEO & Chairman of UATP
By Pascal Burg
EDC’s Pascal Burg met up with Ralph Kaiser, President, CEO & Chairman of UATP, a global corporate travel payment solution owned and operated by the world’s airlines. The network consists of major airlines that issue charge cards accepted by thousands of merchants around the world for air, rail, cruise and travel agency payments. UATP also connects airlines to Alternative Forms of Payment which can expand reach and generate incremental sales globally.
How is UATP different to other payment networks?
UATP is a privately held network owned by the world’s airlines. One of our core products is a corporate charge card similar to the other major card brands, with one key distinction: UATP Cards are issued by airlines and not banks. This helps breed loyalty to airlines and not bank partners. Beyond our corporate charge program, we essentially solve payment related needs for the airline industry. We have a multiple suite of products that help airlines, corporate travelers and travel managers. For example, UATP streamlines billing and provides travel managers with Level III data directly from merchant airlines and we are the only card that can offer Level III data on every transaction.
How will payments evolve for corporate travel bookings in the future?
There is an increase in the popularity of digital and invisible payments – payments where travelers no longer need to show the actual form of payment. According to a recent Barclaycard research report, 58% of travel buyers expect to see an increase in the use of invisible payments over the next five years. One example, Uber for Business.
UATP has also invested in digital payments. We’ve partnered with WEX to launch PAXVIA®, a virtual card solution that allows corporate travelers to purchase hotel and car rentals with their lodged UATP account. We have focused on centrally booked and billed transactions since our inception and the adoption of virtual payments is both on the rise and beneficial for UATP and its customers.
Where do you see your growth coming from in the next 5 years? For instance, UATP recently announced a partnership with three key OTAs – what are the top opportunities for UATP?
Yes, we recently announced a partnership with Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity. It’s a great opportunity for our Corporates in the US to have added choices for booking airfare. It will also help grow our alternative payment processing business by allowing partners like PayPal to be present on OTA sites in addition to airline.com sites. This business has been growing for UATP upwards of 30% per year and I expect it will be our biggest area of growth over the next five years.
What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
I enjoy vacationing with my family – the beach or skiing, it doesn’t matter. I am also fascinated with politics, enjoy sports, particularly football, soccer, golf and tennis; and, I like to travel to new places and meet new people. Finally, I really enjoy anything involving strategy and solving problems.
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