Amadeus And U.S. Bank Deliver Virtual Payments For U.S. Travel Agenciesby Richard D'Ambrosio /
Amadeus is launching a MasterCard-branded Amadeus B2B Wallet in the U.S., a new virtual payment card, designed to bring agents and their clients’ better payment efficiencies, improved security against fraud, and potentially improve the agency’s profits.
Amadeus B2B Wallet is used by travel agencies to pay their suppliers. In most cases, the traveler/client pays the travel agency and the travel agency makes a separate payment to the travel supplier. This mode is used, for example, where the travel agency has agreed rates with suppliers or where they are selling a bundled price which includes travel elements (flight, hotel, etc.) from different suppliers.
The Amadeus B2B Wallet offers a number of features for the travel purchaser, including limiting transactions to a specific dollar amount, time and merchant type. The travel supplier charges the account within its normal course of business and receives payment electronically.
Advocates say virtual cards can improve cash flow, reduce fraud risk, boost revenue share earned per transaction, slash the time spent reconciling payment invoices with booking files, and enable better control of travel spending.
“Virtual payments are a big deal,” said John Smith, president, Tower Travel Management, Chicago. “They are effective for younger travelers and travelers who do not have credit cards (common sometimes with smaller companies that don’t issue corporate credit cards for travel).
“We have a number of clients that are using virtual cards already, and the question is popping up on more and more RFP’s for travel services,” Smith said.
“Payment has traditionally been seen as a back-office cost center. It has typically involved mostly manual processes. So long as it works, business leaders don’t want to know. But new technology is changing that and creating an opportunity to build smart payment processes which allow travel agencies to cut costs, improve reconciliation and improve security,” said Chiara Quaia, head of Business Development, Amadeus Travel Payment.
Since the virtual card is linked to one account, but multiple travelers can use it, virtual cards provide a company with central pay. “That makes accounting easier for our clients, than having travelers submit all their receipts and credit card statements via expense reports,” said Smith.
And, “since they are single use cards, and frequently have built-in maximum expense limits, there is little worry that the virtual cards will fall into the wrong hands or be compromised,” he said.
“Greater payment security is one of the top three benefits virtual payment provides to travel agencies. The system creates single-use numbers that allow travel agencies to track individual bookings by setting up a virtual account with transaction-specific controls for the booking,” said Nicole Tackett, head of Strategy, Specialty Verticals and Partnerships, U.S. Bank, which is issuing the card.
“Ultimately, it is the combination of a single use account and the transaction- specific controls that maintain the highest levels of security for electronic payments,” she said.
In addition, U.S. Bank offers rebates to clients, whether the card is physical plastic with a 16-digit account number or a virtual card with a 16-digit account number. The amount of rebate is based on frequency of use and amount of transactions.
Tackett said that the Amadeus B2B Wallet “brings value to large and small agencies alike. Many larger agencies will already be working with virtual cards, in which case Amadeus B2B wallet brings significant advantages in efficiency” because travel agents can generate the payment immediately from the Amadeus Selling Platform.
Smaller agencies may not previously have had access to virtual card technology, Tackett said.
Amadeus said it is currently rolling out the card with early adopters, with a wider availability in the coming months. Any agency interested in getting up and running with Amadeus B2B wallet should contact their Amadeus account manager, Quaia said.