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Benefits of Integrating Mobile Payment Platforms

Goodbye bulging wallet—and fumbling for company credit cards, itineraries and expense receipts—and hello, digital wallet

By Wendy Helfenbaum

Today, consumers rely on their mobile and wearable devices for everything, including paying for travel expenses. For road warriors, that means goodbye bulging wallet—and fumbling for company credit cards, itineraries and expense receipts—and hello, digital wallet.

Buying in
Although the digital wallet has existed for about a decade, Apple Pay’s 2014 launch was a game-changer—consumers activated one million cards to use in Apple Pay within the first three days of its unveiling. A recent report by Forrester Research predicts US consumers will increase their annual mobile spending from $52 billion to $142 billion by the end of 2019, with food services and travel services driving a big chunk of this growth.

Here’s how digital wallets work: After storing credit or debit card information on a smartphone or tablet, users at a point of sale can hold the device about an inch away from a contactless reader to complete the transaction.

Big-picture thinking
Digital wallets can radically change how CTMs operate, says Ian Knox, senior director of global product at Egencia, which offers the equivalent of a digital wallet. Getting real-time data and detailed on-demand reports lets CTMs audit spending, improve their travel programs and drive travel policy compliance, says Knox. Flexible systems enable CTMs to split up travellers and apply different policies to each group.

“When you start automating everything, you’ll get fewer errors and less fraud,” says Knox. “You also get more efficiency on the back-end in processing transactions and getting money back to travellers faster.”

Analyze this
The meta-data behind the receipts being generated by digital wallets adds more value for CTMs. Seeing at a glance which suppliers are getting your spend over time can deliver significant savings, says Knox, leading to better policy management and negotiating power with suppliers.

What’s in your (digital) wallet?
When evaluating digital payment programs, consider:

Your company culture and location. In Europe, where people are accustomed to central billing, staffers may have lower credit card limits, or work in cash-based countries. In North America, travellers typically use personal credit cards and then expense transactions.

How your travellers work with expenses. Maybe you don’t want your guest travellers—keynote speakers at your event, for example—dealing with complicated expense processes. Or virtual payments make more sense because your workforce finds cash flow management challenging.

One platform or several? CTMs may be tempted to buy different products for different uses, says Knox, so check that the tools you’re getting allow you to completely integrate data across your channels. “Ask a potential travel provider if they have the kind of functionality where travellers book and it’s seamless to them, because otherwise, you lose all the data connectivity, and your benefits start to get weaker.”

Is it simple to use? Make sure your mobile platform is user-friendly, no matter which device employees use.

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