The future of corporate payments: It’s time for a ‘BIG Rethink’

Mobile wallets, virtual cards and more – corporate payment is changing fast. With ‘The BIG Rethink’, we aim to share ideas on the future of our industry.

The working world has changed for good. The shift to hybrid work patterns and mobile-first payments was accelerated by the pandemic faster than anyone could have predicted.

The question now for all of us in the corporate payment industry is clear: How do we meet our customers’ needs in the context of new realities, both now and into the future?

For Paul Spelman, Managing Director of AirPlus International UK & Ireland, there are some pressing questions. “There are two things that we need to think very deeply about. The first is how are our products being used now. The second is understanding where our products are going to be used in the future. That’s where the idea for The BIG Rethink was born.”

What is ‘The BIG Rethink’?

At AirPlus, we strongly believe that it’s time for the industry to come together and rethink the future of corporate payments. We’re calling on our partners and customers to share ideas, discuss trends and join us in driving the conversation forward.

The BIG Rethink looks into how the world of corporate payments is changing and how we, together as an industry, can shape the future. Past trends are now a reality and topics such as sustainability, mobile payments and big data are part of our daily corporate lives. In an ever-evolving world, businesses need to continually innovate, transform, and evaluate to meet their customers’ needs. Standing still is not an option!

As corporate payment experts, we want to actively lead the way in developing solutions that will transform our customers’ working lives. The Big Rethink is only possible if we as an industry work together to continuously share our learning and provide insights for the future.

We’ll be hearing from AirPlus partners, customers, and industry experts with their views on the evolution and innovation happening within our industry.

So, what are the key factors that are driving change?

It’s got to work wherever people work 

With the rise of hybrid and remote working models, systems which depend on employees being physically in the office have become inconvenient or even obsolete. Integrated systems that rely on a specific geographical location simply won’t cut it anymore. It’s got to work wherever your employees do.

It’s got to be mobile 

Transactions are increasingly shifting to mobile. 

Over 2.8 billion mobile wallets were in use by the end of 2020. That’s already a considerable amount, but it gets better: By the end of 2025, that number is projected to increase by almost 74% to reach 4.8 billion. [1]

And it’s not just the transactions themselves: Follow-up activities such as reporting, monitoring and expenses are also going mobile. Nowhere is this more relevant than business travel. 

The BIG Rethink will examine new trends in the use of mobile devices and mobile payments. What does that mean for our industry and how can we best respond?

It’s got to match consumer innovation 

Employees are consumers, too. They shop, bank and order takeaways on their mobile and expect slick, intuitive self-service. Why wouldn’t they expect the same at work and with their corporate payments? Things like face ID, spending categories and real-time credit balances are no longer nice-to-haves – they’re essentials.

Wallets are going digital 

“Oh, no – I forgot my wallet.” often isn’t an issue any longer. Both plastic cards and chip and PIN transactions are declining rapidly. But perhaps more surprisingly, contactless is too. It’s digital and mobile wallets that are now on the rise. 

Since launching Apple Pay in the UK in June 2022, we’ve seen more of our cardholders uploading cards into their Apple Wallet. This has shown us that we must stay relevant and offer the same solutions that have significantly transformed consumer payments.

Virtual cards 

AirPlus was one of the first companies to introduce virtual cards into the UK corporate payment market. Our virtual cards are like conventional plastic cards – but in digital form. They are a quick and easy solution for those travellers without a plastic card. 

It’s rewarding to see virtual cards grow into a highly valued product, transforming our customers’ operations. Take booking flights and hotels, for example. And we foresee, that virtual cards will play an essential role when exploring new grounds in corporate payments. 

Let me give you an example: With the "new normal" post pandemic, the demands on companies to take the complexity out of many processes is also growing. The pandemic has shown how this product can be used differently. Being secure and flexible, virtual cards are proven to be the perfect tool for procurement purchases. 

We know there is more in store for virtual cards, especially with digital payments on the rise.


The BIG Rethink isn’t just about feature sets and payment methods – it’s also a chance to look at how sustainability can be incorporated into the heart of what we do. The public is more environmentally conscious than ever, now demanding industry leaders to think responsibly and act to make positive impactful change. 

As AirPlus, we need to ask ourselves if and how travelling can actually be sustainable. We’ve offered a Green Company Account, a sustainable, climate-neutral payment solution, for over 10 years. All CO2 emissions created by the AirPlus Company Account are offset through our partner myclimate and invested in environmental initiatives. But is carbon offsetting all we can do in business travel management? 

The big shift is now seeing attention turned towards totally paperless processes too, with our customers increasingly choosing this option. Our secure data feeds and digital management make now the right time to make paperless the standard. 

This is just the start of the conversation on sustainability. Let’s work together to be responsible for a better future.

The BIG Rethink begins …. 

Our ‘The BIG Rethink’ webinar will take place on 29 November at 11:00am GMT, featuring

Brooke DiNatale, European Head of Commercial Solutions at Mastercard, and
Paul Spelman, Managing Director of AirPlus UK & Ireland.

These two thought leaders will discuss the trends they’re seeing in the payment world and how the industry can best respond.

Register now to secure your place and join the conversation!

Register here

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