Elevating Travel Payments Without Causing Friction

Journeys to even the most scenic of destinations can often be fraught with payments friction, but mobile payments and other new technology is starting to make travel transactions easier. In the latest issue of the Developer Tracker™, PYMNTS caught up with Celia Periero, head of payments for travel software solution provider Amadeus to discuss the latest developments that promise to put travels woes to rest. Plus, find news from around the space and a directory of the top developers.

Whether it’s remembering to pack for the weather, having the right amount and kind of currency or dealing with security concerns, journeys to even the most scenic of destinations can often be fraught with friction.

As technological advancements have made travel more convenient, consumers are now relying more and more on their mobile phones to ease their international payments pain points. And to cater to the growing demand for mobile payments, software developers are increasingly looking to build personalized, secure mobile payment solutions to help make traveling as convenient, efficient and secure as possible.

To discuss the current state of digital payment developments in the travel industry, PYMNTS recently caught up with Celia Pereiro, the head of payments for travel software solution provider Amadeus.

Making Travel Payments Personal

For airlines, getting travelers where they need to be is often a race against time. And to make that happen, accepting digital payments quickly and effectively is an important part of the equation.

Often it means processing digital payments between different travel companies or entities, such as an airline and a travel agent, or a booking service. To help facilitate these transactions, Amadeus sought to develop a B2B wallet that could process digital payments faster. The wallet, launched in February of 2016, is part of a collaboration between the company, MasterCard, which provides payment acceptance and security at travel agencies, along with Ixaris, which designed a solution to help travel agencies more easily add funds to virtual payment cards.

Pereiro also noted that her team is preparing to debut a new payments service that would make paying for incidental airport services and costs, such as baggage fees and skycap services, easier and more efficient.

Not surprisingly, the growing acceptance of mobile payments in the travel industry has, in a way, steered it away from cash. That’s because mobile wallets support a wide range of digital payment options, letting travelers save much-needed physical currency for when they are on the ground at their destinations.

Pereiro sees the shift toward mobile payments continuing to gain momentum and, with that, a continual decline in cash usage.

“We are working with airlines on on-board payment systems,” she said. “Mobile payments are a big part of that business model.”

However, giving consumers too many payment options can also cause confusion and friction when it comes to making a purchase. As a result, Pereiro said, the Amadeus team is working to personalize payment apps to individual travelers, with the intention of enabling them to quickly find their preferred digital payment option, depending on the type of purchase.

Personalization has become increasingly important to Amadeus and other development companies in a wide range of industries, as consumers expect solutions to be catered to their needs and circumstances.

“Personalization in payments is becoming a hot topic in travel as more and more people book on mobile devices,” Pereiro said. “With that smaller screen size, it is not feasible to offer a long list of possible payment options — people just want to see the best payment option for them for that given payment. And their preferred payment option will change depending on whether they are booking a business trip, [paying thousands] for their honeymoon or spending $20 on extra baggage at the airport.”

Making Travel Payments Secure

While security is a concern to consumers when making any purchase, they are especially worried about it when traveling, Pereiro noted.

Due to physical security concerns, customers must disclose sensitive personal information when making airline and other travel reservations. While these measures may help keep bad actors from boarding planes, they can also potentially expose customer data to hackers and other cybercriminals.

Thus, Pereiro said, it’s important that Amadeus and other travel solutions keep sensitive customer information safe.

“Data security is one of our highest priorities and drives communications management at every level,” she said. “We work with travel companies to help them extract the sensitive credit card data from their systems and convert it into tokens so that they do not need to hold vulnerable data in their systems.”

Data and cybersecurity are also a concern when it comes to a company’s bottom line, Pereiro noted. By reducing the risk of cyberattacks, companies can inspire consumer confidence, she said. Doing so can be good for customer satisfaction while also helping companies avoid lost revenue due to security breaches, fraud, chargebacks or fines for not complying with security standards.

Security concerns will only become more prevalent as more consumers turn to modern electronic payment methods, Pereiro pointed out — a move that is already underway.

As consumers travel into a brave new personalized future, the pressure is on software developers to keep pace, offering the personalization and security that modern, digital payments — and consumers — demand.

To download the March edition of the PYMNTS.com Developer Tracker™, click the button below…

About the Tracker

The PYMNTS.com Developer Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, provides the payments ecosystem with a view into how software developers are using new technologies to create innovative business opportunities and to enable merchants to optimize the ways in which they engage with shoppers today. The developer community within the tracker is separated into three categories: Shopping and Payments, Operations and Marketing.