Commercial cards continue to explore more use cases to optimize spend for businesses, from accounts payable (AP) to employee travel and expense management. Increasingly, the corporate card industry is also looking at ways to take advantage of the unique challenges in particular industries.
This week's look at the latest in commercial card innovation explores some of those use cases, including small business (SMB) travel and event planning.
Mastercard Expands EU Biz Card Offerings
This week, Mastercard announced a partnership with Danish FinTech Cardlay in an initiative to expand Mastercard's commercial card presence throughout Europe by connecting card issuers with technology that augments their own corporate card offerings.
The companies revealed that Mastercard will connect its network of European banks to Cardlay services, which offer financial institutions (FIs) a white-labeled tool to expand issuers' commercial card offerings via automated expense management, VAT claim and other tools. The collaboration not only reflects the potential for service providers to wield commercial card transaction data in ways that expand value, but reveals the growing traction of commercial cards across Europe.
"With the Mastercard Europe partnership, we expect our solution to be built into as many as 10 million corporate cards over the next two years via the card issuers,” said Cardlay Founder and CEO Jørgen Christian Juul in a statement.
Cards Tackle Event Planning Expenses
As commercial card product developers innovate, many are beginning to explore unique use cases for the payment tool. In a recent interview with PYMNTS for its latest Workforce Spend Playbook, Christine Altieri, founder of event production and project management company AE Events, explored the opportunities for corporate cards to support the expense management of event planning teams.
Event managers are responsible for managing team members' expenses, reconciling transactions and keeping receipts, she said. Card products not only support a streamlined expense management process, but enable those managers to more easily connect staff members with a means of making sudden one-off purchases while on-site.
In an industry where unexpected expenses are common, cards can be a particularly effective fit for expense management in the event planning space.
"Having these contingencies allows us to alleviate the surprises of clients who are trying to fit within a budget, and it also gives us the opportunity on-site to make judgement calls," explained Altieri.
Virtual Cards Find A Place In AP
In a recent interview with PYMNTS, U.S. Bank Vice President of Corporate Payment Systems Jennifer Swenson and Senior Vice President and Manager of Working Capital Consulting Adam Kruis explored the FI's strategy for promoting virtual cards in corporates' accounts payable processes. In PYMNTS' latest Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker, Swenson and Kruis described the unique ways that virtual card technology can alleviate accounts payable pain points, while adding value for vendors.
"It comes down to communication, and identifying those opportunities to work together and implement the technology that'll benefit both sides," said Kruis. "You must have input from stakeholders both inside and outside the organization."
Virtual cards are particularly important for industries with high volumes of B2B transactions and a need for real-time payments, including the travel and real estate markets. Increasingly, though, said Swenson, the virtual card is also finding opportunity in other areas of corporate spend, including expense management, as more businesses acknowledge the cash-flow benefits of cards, the working capital benefits for vendors and the advances in security that virtual cards can offer other payment tools.
United Airlines Eyes Cards For SMB Travel
This week, United Airlines announced a collaboration with Chase to launch a co-branded commercial card product, the United Business Card, supporting businesses' travel spend needs. The collaboration offers benefits, including miles and cash back, with a focus on small businesses, according to United Airlines Vice President of Loyalty Luc Bondar.
"This card was designed to give small business owners even more ways to earn double miles in areas where they are already spending, allowing them to earn miles faster, that they can use to travel to hundreds of exciting destinations United serves around the world," he said.