While not all merchants, consumers and other stakeholders are completely on board with Apple Pay™, it undoubtedly got a lot of things right – enough to possibly speed up adoption of mobile payments as a whole. But the new payment program specifically excludes one major element: commercial cards.
For now, Apple Pay™ may have left out corporate cards by design, as we all know projects have multiple phases. It’s a matter of if, when and how they will move it forward.
According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the 2014 corporate travel spending projection reached $292 billion. Commercial cards, also called purchasing or corporate cards, are issued to businesses as an alternative way to finance expenses for travel, as well as for supplies, entertainment, and other items or services that require a purchase order.
The average corporate traveler, says Troy Land, VP of Emerging Commerce at FIS, a global banking and payments technology company, is therefore a good example of many different touch points that could be leveraged by Apple Pay, which saw one million credit card activations within 72 hours of its availability.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE CORPORATE TRAVELER
Among the $292 billion in corporate travel spending projected for 2014, the below infographic depicts some of the many purchasing opportunities a corporate traveler experiences each day. As FIS points out, a corporate traveler uses his or her card to book plane tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms – and even for smaller purchases like coffee and other personal necessities.
THE POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS
So why are corporate cards still a no-go with Apple Pay, especially as Google Wallet accepts all debit and credit cards?
For one, saysLand, commercial accounts have differing structures across multiple processing and host systems. Some accounts have master or “head of household” accounts into which “subaccounts” roll-up. Other accounts are considered “ghost accounts” – a credit card number that is specific to each company department, for use by anyone in that department without the need for a physical credit card.
iTunes accounts, for example, which are used to activate Apple Pay, are typically set up at the personal or consumer level. Some businesses do not allow iTunes downloads on corporate assets like mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Business accounts and personal accounts also cannot be combined, and iTunes Home Sharing is only available for one account. With this information it seems as though Apple Pay is moving through strategic phases.
For corporate travelers looking to use their iPhones to conveniently pay for goods and services, and get simple, itemized digital records of all of their purchases, things might be looking up. When Apple Pay first launched on October 20th, the below chart of participating issuers – without a column for corporate cards – was made available on Apple’s website:
Two weeks later, on November 4th, Apple added a column to the chart for corporate cards:
What does Apple have in store for corporate cardholders? Time will tell, but the tech giant has quite possibly already begun to devise a plan to better cater to that audience – and leverage those multiple touch points – while it seeks the help of banking and payments technology providers around the world.