The last few years have seen an explosion in payment innovation - whether that’s the rapid expansion of “tap and go” contactless cards or Mobile Wallets from tech giants, Apple and Google. We are seeing countries like Denmark taking steps to becoming cashless, with the government announcing a proposal scrapping the obligation for retailers to accept cash as payment. And across the world making payments for consumers is quicker and easier than ever. The message coming out from Silicon Valley is clear: FinTech is hot property. So why, when it comes to B2B payments, have we yet to see the kind of technological revolution currently shaking up the consumer payments world?
This is none more apparent than in the travel industry. Paying travel suppliers is still heavily reliant on manual processing and paper, with some suppliers still requiring confirmation by fax. Different types of suppliers require differing payment methods through multiple systems – none of which are connected to each other. And after all those thousands of transactions have been made, comes the manual reconciliation. It is estimated that the time and money wasted on manual payments handling and reconciliation costs the global travel industry in excess of US$1.5 billion each year.
It doesn’t have to be this way. And the good news is Travel Companies don’t need to wait. There are already technology solutions out there that, through integration, join up the multiple systems and automate the payments and reconciliation process, while also eliminating error-prone and inefficient manual constraints.
So what’s the hold up? Payments in the travel industry are complex, relying on aging technology and embedded processes. In fact it was this complexity and the desire to simplify it that first inspired me to build eNett International. The travel industry has been reluctant to let go of the established ways of doing things. However, the rise of the Online Travel Agent coupled with changing consumer habits and a more digital world are making suppliers change the way they sell - causing travel companies all over the world to reassess the way they pay.
I firmly believe that the next 10 years in travel will see more innovation in B2B payments than we’ve seen for the last 30. The B2B payment revolution has already begun and I’m excited to be able to help our customers take advantage of it.