Contactless payment systems, virtual cards, mobile apps... There are plenty of solutions competing with company payment cards to manage travelling expenses. This is a digital revolution on a global scale that’s making transactions more flexible... so it’s important to be aware of the options.
If we buy into studies on the habits of professionals
travelling in 24 countries throughout the world, the contactless trend has not yet become the most widespread. Company cards are still the most popular method of payment for businesses, both prior to and during business trips. Nevertheless, virtual credit cards and using mobile devices for payment are gradually becoming a global reality. On the whole, countries in Europe are still a little reluctant while, in contrast, virtual payment is very popular in India and apps are flourishing in China.
1. The most popular apps
- Apple Pay, throughout the world
Apple entered the paperless payment market when it enabled us to pay for anything we wanted via an Apple device: cards are recorded but the details are never stored on the device. A unique code is used to pay each time, which means it’s both simple and safe to use. Apple Pay
is the world’s leading contactless payment system, being compatible with all banks and merchant websites. A similar solution has recently been adopted by other major telephone companies, namely Google with Google Pay
, and Samsung with Samsung Pay
. This healthy competition should help to popularise this method of payment.
Launched in France in 2013, the Lydia payment app aims to provide a universal solution that can be used anywhere in the world. Simply download the app
and add a bank card. The app generates a QR code that’s scanned when paying. But even though the company claims it has more than 1.4 million users (including 750,000 individual users) in the five countries in which it’s currently present (France, Ireland, Spain, United Kingdom and Portugal), payment is currently only available in some stores.
- WeChat and Alipay in China
In this trading powerhouse, individuals and professionals are used to living in a hyper-connected world. Smartphone constantly on hand, the Chinese have quickly adjusted to new ways of paying. The market is dominated by two digital giants: Alipay
, Alibaba’s app, and WeChat Pay
. The Chinese have become used to paying for everything with these apps and a simple text message: it takes care of invoices, travel, paying back friends, bookings and more.
2. Virtual cards
Flights, hotel rooms and car hire can be paid for with a single-use credit card number created specifically for the duration of the trip. Virtual credit cards allow companies to set their own usage parameters. This way, there are no unpleasant surprises: everything is planned for and the card has central billing with a single statement that details all the expenses. Most virtual cards are based on the MasterCard
acceptance network, so they can be used anywhere in the world (they’re accepted in more than 36 million stores) in any currency.
3. Centralised payment services
Looking for a digital solution that allows you to travel with complete peace of mind? Check out centralised payment. Companies are using this business solution more and more to pay for busi-ness travel expenses. There are many advantages: no invoice needs to be created so no mistakes can be made. Plus there is a single, transparent and detailed billing statement for a perfect overall view of your expenses. This could signal the end of expense claims for all purchases related to business trips.
In short, it’s a reassuring and straightforward solution to make business trips simpler. Accor provides this type of solution in its Accor Business Account range, but the same kind of initia-tives are becoming increasingly common throughout the world with systems such as AirPlus