Orchestration Helps Airlines Turn Payments Costs Into Profits

Kristian Gjerding, CEO at CellPoint Digital, told PYMNTS in a recent interview that amid the rise of open banking, faster payments and pay by bank’s continued embrace, there’s one thing that’s top of mind for his company’s clients:

“It’s always the key business value,” he said. “It’s the universal question.”

Smart merchants, he said, know that technology does not just solve operational pain points and problems — it’s meant to drive revenues and profits. The most forward-thinking executives, he said, have been kept keenly aware of new developments in the commerce and payments arenas — and everything from podcasts to newspaper articles and industry conferences are consistent sources of education.

“They hear the buzz words,” he told PYMNTS, “and they understand that they have problems with payments, and they want to hear about what payments orchestration can do for them.”

Airlines and Payments Orchestration 

Gjerding said the airline industry offers a key case in point. In the travel ecosystem, he explained, airlines are “far ahead” in terms of embracing technology to solve pain points — particularly through the use of payments orchestration, where the myriad registries, touch points and geographic reach demand efficient routing of payments across time zones and currencies.

The shift toward more fully considering payments’ role began about five years ago for the airlines, Gjerding said, as they started to approach providers (CellPoint Digital among them) to take advantage of a platform approach to deal with transaction-related frictions. And now, the CEO noted that CellPoint Digital counts roughly 250 airlines among its roster of clients — the benefit of a network effect that has expanded through the years.

“One of the key conversations we are having about payments orchestration [with the airlines],” said, “is about ‘return on flow,’” where costs are turned into profits.

In the airline ecosystem, Gjerding said there can be dozens of stakeholders in the mix, across various departments within the airline. On top of that, there are also enterprise merchants seeking answers on how to address and anticipate changing individual and corporate travelers’ needs.

Payments orchestration “offers ways to see a combination of increased conversions, decreased costs and efficiency gains on the back office side, and speed to market,” he said. CellPoint Digital also automates and simplifies the back office, freeing some resources for clients to apply to other areas of the business, he added.

Payments orchestration also adds to customer satisfaction, Gjerding said, because end users find it easier to go through the payment experience — and for firms to continuously refine that experience.

In the months and years ahead for airlines and across other industries, conversations around payments will revolve around “how we can make payments an even bigger revenue multiplier,” he said.

That’s especially true as leisure travel continues to rebound, and business travel is expected to hit pre-pandemic levels sometime in 2024. At the center of it all, said Gjerding, will be the ever-conscious effort to bring in some top-line and bottom-line predictability, through payments, and payments orchestration.

“After all,” noted Gjerding, “if payments don’t work, the business goes down — and no one makes any money.”