As business travel continues to rebound around the world, virtual credit cards are rising in popularity for companies seeking better control over all employees’ spending, including for those who work remotely, according to a new Mastercard survey.
Sixty-six percent of corporate travel planners Mastercard surveyed in April said the new hybrid working environment is increasing business-travel demands, and making it more difficult to forecast and budget for corporate travel expenses. One reason is that many employees who work inside and outside the office still use personal cards to book travel, according to survey respondents.
As a result, the majority of companies’ travel decision-makers said they plan to expand corporate travel and entertainment card programs to optimize spending and processing, and it’s a top priority to add mobile virtual cards to manage employee spending. Ninety percent of respondents said they expect virtual cards to become the dominant approach to booking corporate travel within the next five years.
Mastercard Global Foresights conducted its survey with The Harris Poll between April 7 and April 14, 2023, among 541 travel decision-makers across the U.S., Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia and India.
Visa doubles down on virtual-card technology
Separately, Visa on Thursday announced a four-year extension of its strategic collaboration Conferma Pay, a U.K. fintech specializing in virtual card technology, to add more features to Visa’s commercial card products.
The next phase of the partnership aims to further develop and expand the use of Visa Commercial Pay, which launched in 2020 and is currently in use with corporate customers at Wells Fargo, Umpqua Bank, UAE-based Emirates Bank and Singapore-based OCBC, Visa said in its press release.
Visa Commercial Pay’s core business-to-business payment services include the Visa Commercial Pay Mobile app, Visa Commercial Pay Travel and Visa Commercial Pay B2B.
Uses include digital wallet tokenization and support for virtual hotel cards, which enable organizations to add a virtual corporate card directly to a digital wallet on an employee’s mobile phone. This approach retains the organization’s centralized spending controls, while employees have the security and convenience of card-in-hand products, Visa said in the release.
Business travel is a key use case for Visa Commercial Pay, Visa said. For example, corporate managers can authorize issuance of a virtual card to a business traveler with customized spending limits and controls, as an alternative to relying on corporate credit cards with fixed credit limits.
In the next phase of their collaboration, Visa will work with Conferma to further streamline various payment processes for organizations working with banks in the Americas, Asia and the Middle East, shifting invoice management to virtual cards to eliminate manual steps and improve cash flow, the release said.
“The pandemic exposed significant inefficiencies with traditional payment methods used by businesses,” said Gloria Colgan, senior vice president of global product Visa commercial solutions, in the release.
“The world has been increasingly moving toward more digitized payments and the launch of Visa Commercial Pay has supported this transition in the commercial payments environment,” said Jason Lalor, Conferma Pay’s CEO, in the release.