B2B Payments

The Power Of Virtual Card Data

Corporate travel and T&E is the second-most controllable expense for a company. It’s a fact that was reiterated by Dave Lukas, Grasp Technologies Vice President and CMO. Grasp’s expertise is in data management and movement in the corporate travel space, but when clients approached the firm to develop a payments solution, Lukas said the company saw an opportunity to transport the data of virtual payments to help businesses control spending and mitigate risk in the T&E department.

GraspPAY is the virtual payments solution that combines data management, business intelligence and traveler profile services into a POS tool for virtual payments in the travel sector. In short, GraspPAY lets corporate travel players take advantage of the data that stems from use of a virtual payment.

According to Lukas, it was a chance meeting with virtual card experts WEX that got the ball rolling on a new solution that helps corporates book their travel through a single-use virtual card. GraspPAY facilitates a transaction by obtaining a single-use virtual card number from WEX, and sends it to the travel management company through which a corporation is booking travel plans.

That means GraspPAY has high-quality data about the payment behaviors of corporate travelers – and it wants to help businesses collect it, analyze it, and put it to use.

Businesses already struggle with aggregating and mining their data, Lukas told PYMNTS. And in T&E, the inability to access and make use of that data can put companies at a disadvantage. “There are massive data sets that people never really knew existed because they didn’t have the time and analysis expertise to go and get it,” Lukas said.

[bctt tweet=”In T&E, the inability to make use of Big Data can put companies at a disadvantage.”]

Through its WEX partnership, GraspPAY said it wants companies to be able to make use of the data that flows from the payments employees make while on a business trip, whether they use a virtual card, their own personal cards or a corporate credit card, with a solution that brings connectivity between these sources of payment data.

“We have proprietary methods that standardize, optimize and enrich that data,” Lukas explained. “We created the Unique Trip Identifier, which ties across those data sources to show you the true cost of the trip and T&E. Do you want to know how much Starbucks coffee your people are buying on a trip to Atlanta? We can tell you that.”

But the use of the virtual card, specifically, has major potential to heighten the quality of that data, protect corporate payments, and improve corporate spending, said Lukas.

Fraud is among the most immediate benefits to a v-card. For example: if a corporate books a hotel stay for an employee through a virtual card, and that card information is stolen, there is only so much a cyber thief can do with that information.

“Virtual cards are created in a moment for a specific transaction; this is why they’re so big in hotels,” Lukas explained. “If a charge on a virtual card is $330, it can only be used at that hotel for, say, a two-night stay. There’s nothing you can do with that card information again.”

On top of fraud protection, the use of Big Data to analyze corporate spending can allow businesses to implement the correct T&E policies and controls, and allow for near-real-time analysis of spending behavior and trends, the Grasp executive said.

“A lot of CFOs know that T&E is the second-largest, most controllable expense,” Lukas noted. “We can take advantage of that and make a difference in their business. A lot of times it’s hard because they’re not consolidating data, and by the time they piece it all together it’s too late to act on it.”

[bctt tweet=”T&E is the second-largest, most controllable expense”]

Fast-acting analysis, on top of accurate spend controls, can mean “millions of dollars” in savings for many of Grasp’s clients, Lukas said.

As a data mover, organizer and visualizer, Grasp was established for the corporate travel market. But this partnership with WEX – and, eventually, other payments players – means Grasp is entering the virtual card space, and Lukas said it’s one with incredible room for development.

“We really believe the future of payments is down to the single-use card level,” he said. “From a payments perspective, it makes sense, because it virtually eliminates fraud.”

That security, he added, means virtual payments have the potential to overhaul the entire universe of financial transactions, whether it be corporate or consumer spending, T&E or online shopping. GraspPAY currently facilitates virtual card payments in 22 currencies, and Lukas agreed that v-cards can shift the way cross-border B2B payments and payroll are done, too.

But the space needs more innovators first, he said.

“There is no one-stop solution for that all, at least not yet,” Lukas said. “Every client is different, and you need to craft a solution for them specifically, especially in travel. It’s the Wild West of data, so it will take a collaborative effort.”

In the spirit of collaboration, Lukas added that Grasp is looking forward to striking new partnerships and partaking in an area of B2B payments that needs more cooperation and innovation. “There are very few people on the virtual card side,” he said. “There is a lot of room for us all to innovate, and to go to the next level in figuring out how to bring these types of solutions for every type of consumer, to every type of payment in the world. That’s our lofty vision for the next decade or so.”

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