B2B Payments

Corporate Cards Tackle Their Own Employee Expense Shortcomings

With corporate cards growing their market share, the payment tool is finding opportunity in more areas of the enterprise, from cross-border corporate payments to accounts payable.

While this week’s look at the latest in commercial card innovation does indeed find new advances in these areas, service providers are also increasingly turning to developing solutions for pain points in one of the original corporate card use cases: employee spend.

Teampay Talks Cards’ Employee Spend Opportunity

One of the most popular use cases for commercial cards has traditionally been in the area of employee spend, but this tactic certainly has its drawbacks. One of the largest, of course, is the struggle to ensure that employees with access to a company card are using it as they should.

As adoption of cards for employee spend grows, so does the challenge of analyzing that spend.

“Every single person in your company is now part of your purchasing department,” explained Teampay CEO Andrew Hoag in a recent interview with PYMNTS.

As commercial card technology advances, solution providers have addressed a range of friction points, with new tools often targeted toward easing the burden of issuing cards out to individual employees with on-demand virtual card capabilities. Increasingly, however, corporate card solution providers are turning toward data integrations and collaborations to address pre- and post-transaction friction, promoting spend compliance and analyzing expense data.

One of the biggest impacts of this trend, said Hoag, is the heightened transparency of employee spending that has revealed major opportunities for cost savings in areas like cutting down duplicate spending on software products.

“This ecosystem is moving away from just focusing on the payment, and focusing on the problem we’re ultimately solving for the customer, which is, ‘How do I get the money to the right people, in the right organization, at the right time?’” said Hoag. “That’s about more than just arming them with a corporate card or access to a virtual card.”

Visa Collabs for Global Corporate Cards

Visa will power a new commercial card solution designed to empower businesses with cross-border payments capabilities offered by Airwallex, the companies recently announced.

Dubbed the Airwallex Borderless Card, the solution will first roll out for businesses in Australia, with U.K. and Hong Kong future targets for the solution. The card facilitates global payments in multiple currencies with competitive foreign exchange rates, the companies noted, adding that Australian users will first be able to generate virtual cards to pay their suppliers across borders. Later on, the offering will include the option to generate multi-currency physical corporate cards for executives and employees.

Visa and Airwallex highlighted the ability for cards to offer “end-to-end” functionality, with transaction data easily accessible and integrated into back-office platforms.

Emburse Embraces Card Data Integration

Employee spend management solution provider Emburse announced a new commercial card-linked solution designed to integrate with expense reporting platform Abacus.

Emburse Cards for Abacus B2B customers will support the integration of transaction data from Emburse Cards automatically within the Abacus platform, both for physical and virtual cards, with the companies focusing on real-time visibility of cards and spend.

Employees using the Emburse Card will receive prompts to take a picture of their receipts to automate expense submission at the time of a purchase.

In a statement, Emburse Chief Product Officer Ted Power said cards have historically presented a spend management challenge.

“Many organizations have long struggled with the challenge of gaining real-time visibility into purchases made on corporate cards, and, as a result, they were unable to get an accurate and timely picture of employee spend,” he said, adding that data integration automates reconciliation and improves visibility.

WEX Fuel Cards Hit a Snag

One of the most complex areas of employee spend management is in the freight arena, with fleet card innovation aiming to heighten fleet managers’ visibility and control over drivers’ spending behavior.

One fleet card provider hit a snag this week, however. WEX reportedly issued an apology following an outage of its commercial fuel card services that had affected TCH, T-Check, Fleet One, EFS and the Truckers Advantage Fuel Card products.

WEX declined to offer specifics about its systems failure, but reports noted truckers had taken to social media to publicize their complaints about being unable to make payments with their fleet cards or log into their accounts.

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LIVE PYMNTS ROUNDTABLE: MODERNIZING & SCALING FOR THE NEW NORMAL

The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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