In the midst of all the discussion around B2B payments, increasing digitization of the payables ecosystem, greater efficiency and improved working capital flexibility, it can be easy to forget that business travel remains both a major expense and potential source of friction (employee and otherwise) for corporations of all sizes. Payments services related to employee travel is one of the most visible brand recognition opportunities for banks and networks. If not done consistently right, it can easily become a negative inflection point in a business relationship. This particular news indicates that American Express is keeping its eye on the ball in providing high value improvements to a travel booking and payments platform with an already strong reputation. The enhanced Business Travel Account provides companies with better controls, enhanced data for reconciliation and more flexibility to manage business travel for both employees and contract labor.
“We understand that corporate travel is a major expense for many companies and can be a time consuming and difficult process to manage,” said Gint Balodis, Vice President, Global Product Management, American Express Global Commercial Payments. “Our improvements in the enhanced Business Travel Account further centralize control into one account, making the process of purchasing, tracking and reconciling travel expenses easier than in the past.”
In effect the addition of virtual accounts within the platform creates well-known control features associated with single-use card accounts (including set usage dates and pre-authorized transaction spending limits). Incorporating virtual accounts through a partnership with Conferma helps to remove the friction, clumsiness and risk often found in various processes and products for servicing occasional travelers (un-carded employees), groups and those non-employees sometimes required to travel on behalf of the company. Added hotels and expanded airlines bookings have increased the platform options. An added bonus is the provision of previously unavailable data through improved global files and field enhancements, creating easier reconciliation on the back end through the American Express @Work reporting tool.
The release goes on to announce current availability in three markets (U.S., Australia, the UK). It seems to us that modernizing digital services with such direct influence on employee experiences is the right thing to do.
Overview by Steve Murphy, Director, Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group
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