Disruptive, innovative technology can change markets in ways that could never have been predicted. The rise in Big Data, for instance, has encouraged the exploration of new ways to make use of digital payments data. For corporate payments, that could mean more accurate cash flow forecasting, fraud identification or more efficient reconciliation.
But U.K. travel technology company Voyage Manager, which offers traveler tracking capabilities for employers with traveling staff, has identified another use for corporate payments data that could only have been possible through the rise in digital payments.
Traditionally, explained Founder John Scott, traveler itineraries are the go-to to track workers; then came the advent of GPS, which can also help to track employees, though, as Scott noted, many individuals aren’t too keen on being constantly tracked via GPS.
Last week, Voyage Manager announced that it can now use transaction and expense data from cards used while traveling to add another layer of visibility into where employees are.
Scott offered an example of why using payments data can be so useful.
“If an itinerary states that you fly into Heathrow, the only thing we know is that you should have arrived at Heathrow,” he said. “By adding card transaction data, we could know that you spent £25 at a Domino’s Pizza in central London — it gives us additional information we otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Knowing exactly where your employees are while traveling is critical for an employer, Scott said. For one, it supports duty-of-care efforts.
“As an employer, you have the responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees,” the executive stated. If an employee travels to London via Heathrow and there is some type of emergency or event that occurs in a particular part of the city, knowing exactly where the employee is can mean a more efficient notification and warning for that worker.
But there is another element to employee tracking that employers should be wary of. For tax and auditing purposes, using transaction data provides a more accurate data trail of where an employee is and where he or she is spending corporate funds.
For Voyage Manager, making use of corporate payments data through the rise in digital payment methods hasn’t just brought the company a new way to augment its existing employee tracking services. It’s also opened doors to new business ventures, like expense management and helping its corporate clients identify potential payment fraud.
“I think tracking employees is a byproduct” of the shift corporates are making towards digital payment methods, said Scott. “I don’t think anyone was planning on using this data, initially, for this purpose — it’s just that the data is now available to be able to do this.”
It’s only recently that employee tracking via payment data could really be put to use in this way, too.
“If you were to use a credit card 20 years ago, when they had the machines that took a print of the card, that would still take five to six days to process,” he added. “We’re moving towards more of a real-time economy.”
Transactions made with a company credit card now offer instant notification of that payment. And as payments technology continues to progress, Scott said Voyage Manager will continue to make use of it.
In fact, the company is slated to develop its own prepaid card solution for its corporate clients to use sometime next year. This, too, will not only enable Travel Manager to access the transaction data of traveling employees for the purposes of tracking but can also augment the company’s expense management, tax and auditing support and payments security offerings.
“It means we have more control over the underlying data,” Scott said. It’s data that is only made possible by the shift among corporates towards digital payments and offers yet another benefit, however unexpected, for businesses to make that change.