Three good reasons to implement virtual payments

05 JUNE, 2015

  • Greater savings

  • Better data

  • Increased tracking capabilities for traveller safety


Implementing virtual payments is a top priority in 2015 for a third of travel managers, according to CWT’s annual Travel Management Priorities survey.


And with data security, mobile technology and big data shaping business travel this year, the appetite for virtual payments is increasing.


‘This will become the new normal,’ predicts Clive Cornelius, CWT’s senior director, global card products. Using a virtual payment method can mean centralising more travel spend compared to using corporate or personal credit cards,’ he says. ‘One important way is to ‘close the gap’ of travellers who wouldn’t normally be issued with corporate cards, such as temporary workers.’ Capturing this ‘leakage’ brings cost savings, increased productivity and data to bolster business intelligence.


How do virtual payments work?


For companies already using a booking tool or global distribution system (GDS), traveller data, booking information and client references can be pulled together and used to create a unique 16-digit card number. The supplier accepts this as a Cardholder Not Present (CNP) transaction in the same way as plastic.


Visa Europe signed a deal with tech firm Conferma in 2013 to provide technology to all its issuing banks, and MasterCard last year began piloting its own virtual payments technology (which is also integrated with Conferma to allow connectivity to the TMC space).


CWT currently works with Conferma to enable virtual payments for hotels and low-cost airlines, and Clive says the potential is enormous. ‘At the moment we talk about virtual cards being used for central payments, but looking at a mobile situation then it could be used for any payment, such as a taxi or restaurant,’ he forecasts.


High credit card limits are eliminated since each transaction has its own limit, tailored to the type of spend. Transactions can be assigned a validity period, and even categories such as hotel use only. Such limitations mean companies 'exposure to data breaches is minimal’, says Clive.


Transaction data might include who the booking is for, the supplier or individual project codes. This rich, real-time reporting means there’s no waiting for a credit card statement to analyse how and where budgets are being spent. And the traveller can be more productive because time post-trip isn’t spent filing expense claims.


The key to success


Key to it all is implementation and integration throughout the business. ‘Consider it a project and assign the right people to the task,’ recommends Clive. ‘Planning and data flow are essential to getting consolidated, high quality reporting. And above all is communication to ensure buy-in. Thinking about these elements at set-up stage will lead to success.’


Contact your programme manager for more information.