Corporate Cards: the future proof payment solution for business travelers and their employers

In the latest issue of Luchtvaartnieuws, Melvin van Wingerden, Director Benelux and Nordics at AirPlus International, updates readers of Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine on the latest developments in the field of corporate payment solutions.

To start and set the scene, can you tell a bit more about AirPlus International?

AirPlus is a specialist in innovative payment and data solutions that serve over 50,000 customers worldwide. We assist organizations in managing their travel programs by providing payment convenience. Additionally, with each payment transaction, data is generated that enables our customers to optimize internal financial and procurement processes. Melvin2

Since 2002, our Benelux & Nordic office has been located at Schiphol, and from there, 45 motivated employees with extensive knowledge and passion serve our customers in the region. With a short interval, I have been working for our organization for 15 years now.

Has the COVID period also been a challenging time for you? And how are things now?

Things are going well! After a few challenging years, we are back in 'growth mode.' Like the entire travel industry, we were also surprised by the rapid recovery of the travel industry in early 2022. While we had to get our teams back to full strength, our organization was inundated with service requests as our customers started traveling again. Our team is now back at full capacity. We also used the crisis to accelerate the implementation of our new systems. As a result, we can serve our customers even more efficiently, and we have introduced a completely new Corporate Card and Virtual Card Procurement in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

Why are Corporate Cards so popular among business travelers?

The first plastic Corporate Cards appeared as early as 1958. And more than six decades later, they are still the preferred payment choice for business travelers, making them the 'gold standard' for business travelers across Europe. They provide an easy way to pay in foreign currencies and eliminate the need to personally front travel expenses. Additionally, they simplify expense management during the trip. For employers, Corporate Cards offer strict cost control, automation, and seamless integration with internal processes. They improve cash flow and ensure duty of care for travelers. In short, everyone benefits from the use of Corporate Cards.

Can you tell us more about the AirPlus Corporate Card? What makes it so special?

Firstly, it offers a completely digital user experience for both cardholders and travel managers. They can fully manage their cards and portfolios online, including transaction and statement information, setting necessary limits, and blocking cards. With integration into mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, there is no need for physical plastic anymore. The Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is also handled through our mobile app, allowing cardholders to quickly and easily validate online transactions.

The cards are issued on the Mastercard network, making them one of the most widely accepted digital payment methods worldwide.

And although the AirPlus Corporate Card may appear as an ordinary credit card from the outside, it offers many more options in terms of liability, deferred payment terms (without BKR registration), and comprehensive travel insurance. Additionally, all control mechanisms and the level of detail in the generated data are much more extensive than a regular consumer card. This makes it ideal for both cardholders and businesses.

Can you tell us more about how businesses can use Corporate Cards as part of their travel expense management?

Research shows that travelers find it inconvenient to advance travel expenses because waiting for expense reimbursements can sometimes take weeks. For employers, Corporate Cards provide strict cost control, automation, and easy integration with internal processes. They also improve cash flow and ensure duty of care towards the travelers.

With every payment made using the Corporate Card, a data record is created, which we provide to our customers in various ways and formats. This enables them to analyze their expenses accurately and optimize accounting and reimbursement processes. By automatically capturing detailed information about each transaction, errors and misunderstandings in expense claims are reduced. Employees no longer need to manually enter receipts as all the necessary data is already available. This saves time and simplifies the administrative burden for both employees and employers.

Employers can gain insight into where their money is going, which suppliers they are using, and what cost-saving opportunities exist. This enables them to engage in negotiations with suppliers based on actual expenditure data and to develop policies for cost control and efficient expense management.

How does the AirPlus Corporate Card meet the changing needs of customers in terms of a digitized user experience?

AirPlus understands that customer needs are constantly evolving, and we are committed to staying ahead of the curve. We regularly gather feedback from our customers to understand their pain points and identify areas for improvement. This feedback serves as the basis for our ongoing product development, enabling us to introduce new features and functionalities that align with the digitized user experience our customers expect.

By continuously innovating and enhancing our offerings, we ensure that the AirPlus Corporate Card remains a leading solution in the industry.

How has the travel payment solutions sector evolved, and how has AirPlus adapted to these changes?

The travel payment sector went through a significant transformation in recent years. There is a shift towards digital payment solutions with a greater emphasis on security and control. AirPlus has remained at the forefront of these developments by investing in research and development, closely monitoring industry trends, and engaging with our customers to understand their changing needs. We have adjusted our products and services to align with the sector's changes and next to the integration into the mobile wallets,  we also have the integration into Uber for Business to provide added convenience and flexibility.

What can customers expect from AirPlus in terms of future developments?

We are eagerly looking forward to the future. We are nearing the final stages of our IT migration, and simultaneously, we are actively working on how we can better serve our customers. Our roadmap includes expanding into new markets, introducing new services such as the fully digital version of the Corporate Card, our new Management Information System A+ Intelligence, and numerous new integrations with partners in both the Travel and Procurement space. 

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