The world of payments has changed drastically over the last several years during the concurrent rise of fintech. Consumer payments today are almost unrecognizable compared to a decade ago, with payments made by apps or credentials stored in digital wallets becoming commonplace, and cash and even physical plastic cards being marginalized.
In the world of business travel, this payments revolution has been a bit slower to take hold, because it is typical in a B2B environment for the pace of innovation to lag the consumer world. But that is beginning to change as the rate of innovation in corporate travel payment systems is accelerating, with new technologies like virtual and mobile payments, as well as alternative solutions from suppliers outside the circle of traditional payment providers, becoming more popular.
One such example is the increasing popularity of virtual cards for corporate travel, says Wendy Ward, Chief Marketing Officer at UATP. She points to the rise in the acceptance of virtual cards at hotels as evidence of this.
“Significant advancements have been made, with [the need for] fax communication down significantly and the reliance now upon secure e-mail and APIs,” Ward notes. “Payment modernization, such as the automated workflow implemented by Grasp Technologies and Marriott with a TMC and corporate client, allow for wider hotel acceptance and readiness. Some work remains to get completely away from manual processes, but it is expected that fax reliance could be eliminated in the next few years.”
The ability for greater spending controls and more insightful analysis of spending and spending patterns is a primary driver for the increased use of innovative payments such as virtual cards for corporate travel.
“Duty of care – knowing when and where your employees are – requires extensive data, and by utilizing virtual cards, travel managers are able to make sure approved hotels and preferred airlines are being used, in addition to payment options such as UATP where Level III data reflects all itinerary level data for travel managers” says Ward.
“Knowing exactly what is spent, when, where and by whom, is driving the modernization of technology in payments. True end-to-end offerings are getting closer to reality,” she adds. “Of course, with the recent rise of AI and machine-learning, while we don’t know the implications yet, you can expect to see advancements in processes to ease travel friction.”
To continue reading this news article, click here.