4 Top Trends of 2020

During this year of unprecedented upheaval and change, here were some of the most important shifts that may have impacted your organizations and practices. 

1. Business Travel Falls Off The Map

To say business travel dramatically declined in 2020 is an understatement. State-to-state restrictions played havoc with domestic travel, while international restrictions inhibited travel outside of the European Union.  With more people working from home and business budgets tightened overall, it’s unlikely business travel will rebound to prior levels in the near term.  Domestic travel is expected to revive sometime in the first half of 2021, while international trips will lag behind.  Until a reliable vaccine is available, it’s expected that international travel will remain at low levels. 

The prediction from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)1 is that business travel is likely not to return in any large degree until mid-2021.

2. Mobile Proximity Payments Are Everywhere

Interest in mobile proximity payments (payments made at or near the point-of-sale) in commercial cards started to pick up as the year progressed.  The commercial mobile focus is still basically about the service experience, with payment approvals a key consideration, but actual payments transactions are not yet an issue. 

With contactless or touchless payments emerging as a preference, expectations are that mobile demand will rise as travel returns, especially from international travelers.  Many overseas markets are now high contactless point-of-sale (POS) environments – a trend increasing in the U.S. as well. When travel returns, demand will increase for mobile commercial payments.

3. E2E Mobile is now Business as Usual

It’s clear that self-service mobile and an end-to-end mobile experience is critically important for cardholders and administrators. 

  • Duty of care is more than just a legal obligation, in the immediate post pandemic era, it's an absolute necessity to be able to quickly communicate and ensure the well-being of your travelers. The use cases and adoption of mobile payments utilizing virtual card numbers are increasing for air, hotel and car rental transactions. 
  • Real-time access and control are essential to business travelers. They want to see their account details and transaction activity, turn their account on and off, and receive email and/or text alerts regarding potential fraud.

4. Digitalize: Do or Die?

Digitalization is now a fast-growing priority for both buyers and sellers. Further integration of card-based accounts into the financial cycle, from procurement to reconciliation, is a key to being able to achieve the cost savings and process efficiencies that electronic payments deliver.  Check usage continues to decline in our post-pandemic world. A positive side effect of the pandemic? Corporate leadership’s realization that highly-manual analog processes are over – jeopardizing business continuity, cash flow and even the health of supply chains. The demand for virtual cards will increase.

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1.  GBTA, https://www.gbta.org/research-tools/covid-19-member-polls