Striking a balance between instituting corporate controls and providing a frictionless user experience is an ongoing challenge in the travel and expense management market. Richard Crum, Group Head, Global T&E Products & Solutions at MasterCard, sat down with MPD CEO Karen Webster to explain how payments innovation, specifically in the form of digital wallets, may provide a gateway for innovation in corporate travel management.
In the world of corporate travel, payments have long been seen as simply a facilitator – a means to an end for travelers to complete a transaction for checking out of a hotel or making a necessary purchase. However, Richard Crum, MasterCard’s Group Head of Global T&E Products & Solutions, explained that now payments has evolved into a strategic tool companies can use to exert more control over their travel programs.
The power of new payment technologies also has the potential to improve upon the way employees experience traveling on behalf of their employers.
According to Crum, taking the experience of the corporate traveler into account is significant and involves addressing some very important factors.
“How do you give travelers the right amount of freedom? The right amount of guidance? As well as the right set of technologies and tools to make sure they can be in policy but also get the job done without feeling like it's a chore,” Crum said.
As anyone familiar with corporate travel can tell you, there are many aspects of the travel experience that can bring on frustrations.
But MasterCard is looking to help change that by providing tokenization services to commercial card issuers, meaning corporation and business travelers will now have the ability to add eligible corporate cards to mobile wallet services like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
“First and foremost it's about improving the convenience for a business traveler by giving them a tool that has increasingly become common in their consumer lives which can now equally have an impact on the way they conduct their business travel,” Crum explained.
Bringing corporate cards into the MDES (MasterCard Digital Enablement Service) environment not only enables tokenization for business purchases and payments, but also helps to move the travel management space forward down the path of digitizing card credentials.
The ability to ensure the data captured from corporate travel expenses — which is critical to managing corporate card programs — is secured in a tokenized digital environment also lays the foundation for more innovation to come, Crum said.
For now, having corporate cards available in digital wallets will allow travelers to take advantage of more services enabled to accept mobile transactions, such as Uber, tap-and-go credit card terminals in taxi cabs or public transit and even the ever-growing number of quick service restaurants.
But this next generation of digital payments for corporate travel could also impact one of the more headache-inducing sides of the experience: expense management and reporting.
While both expense management tools and payments have continued to innovate over time, Crum said the real question is how to take digital card transactions and use them to make the expense report process easier.
“It's not hard to imagine a world where expense reports are not just a collection of a whole bunch of transactions, but just the actual process of the transactions," Crum noted, adding that in his opinion the market is not even necessarily years away from seeing the next evolution of travel expense management.
He explained that what’s being done to connect the digital card environment to travel management will open up possibilities for business travel management to evolve as well.
Crum pointed to the growing use of one-time use virtual account number products or virtual cards as a great example of this opportunity for innovation becoming very real.
“A company can use single-use virtual account numbers to put all types of controls around where cards can be used – they can be closer aligned with policy and preferred suppliers, bring added security and also add an enhanced level of information to aid with reconciliation and strategic management of corporate travel programs,” he added.
Connecting the world of virtual account numbers to the world of digitized and mobile payments could present many opportunities to bring value-added services to corporate card programs.
Innovation in the technology used to enhance corporate travel is something that will continue to evolve, but Crum emphasized the need for those managing these programs to focus on payments as not just a functional asset, but a strategic one, which requires picking the right card system supplier.
“That's where the equation has to balance, building solutions that are both helping companies do a better job of managing travel but also giving travelers the convenience and the experience that makes travel a lot more enjoyable than it probably is today,” Crum said.
To learn more about how MasterCard is enabling corporate card use in digital wallets, watch the video below:
Group Head, Global Commercial Products, T&E Products and Solutions, MasterCard
Richard Crum is group head of Global Commercial Products. In this role, he is responsible for the global development and management of the corporate travel payment products and solutions offered by MasterCard and our issuers. He also leads a team of product managers to develop the global strategy and align product development priorities to meet regional needs.
Prior to joining MasterCard, Mr. Crum held senior leadership positions with AirPlus International and UATP. During his career at AirPlus, Mr. Crum was responsible for establishing and growing their commercial card issuing business in North America. He held multiple positions with UATP, including serving as the president for the global airline payment network for four years.
Mr. Crum also served as the president for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and as a member of the ACTE Board of Directors. He was twice recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential Executives in the industry by Business Travel News and named by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the industries Rising Stars.
Mr. Crum has a degree in Economics from George Mason University.