BCD Travel’s new travel and expense spend management solution aims to support the more than 50% that are still struggling with travel payment issues

A recent survey conducted by corporate travel management specialist BCD Travel has found more than 50% of customers are still struggling with missing invoices, receipts, credit card reconciliations, and managing the quality of expense and spend data.

In addition, more than 25% of companies reported they face challenges managing payments for meetings, events, and non-employee travel, with the changing post-COVID-19 hybrid workplace increasing the complexity around payments and expense management for infrequent travellers.

Around two-thirds (65%) of travellers cite contactless payment as a key factor for the return to travel, while the survey also found business travellers want a seamless payment and expense process that saves time and eliminates the need for paper receipts and the back and forth of the approval process.

These findings have been behind the introduction of BCD Travel’s new ‘BCD Pay’ suite of solutions for travel and expense management. The solutions use artificial intelligence, machine learning and open APIs to “simplify, digitise and automate” corporate travel payment, reconciliation and invoice management.  The result is what appears a frictionless, digital payment experience all the way from trip booking and payment through reconciliation.

“At BCD Travel, our vision is to remove the friction and pain points experienced by travellers, travel managers and finance teams related to their travel and expense payment, invoices, reimbursement and reconciliation,” explains Ajay Singh, vice president, digital payment and expense products at the company.

He says that BCD Pay “eases the burden” for travellers, who are looking for a simple process with no need to make payments or expense claims. Similarly, It helps managers “maintain and improve control” over payment for corporate travel, meetings and events and get “greater payment visibility”. It also frees up management time by “automating manual tasks related to reconciliation and workflow,” and “enriches data transfers” by streamlining the T&E spend management process, according to the executive.

In fact, BCD Travel notes that during pilot testing, BCD Pay has shown a 75% improvement in the cycle time of end-to-end data ingestion, reconciliation, reporting and data integration across a fragmented ecosystem of back offices, enterprise resource planning systems and credit card issuer systems.

Earlier this year, CTC – Corporate Travel Community highlighted research from Forrester Consulting for travel technology company Amadeus that warned that transforming outdated travel and expense management processes and tools must be central to future business objectives.

The article – ‘Travel expense management needs a rethink and modernisation to ensure compliance and generate business efficiencies’ – highlighted that enterprises “must rethink” their travel and expense management technologies to digitally transform, improve employee experience, and enhance efficiency of financial operations through automation and integration.

The research showed that although there has been lots of talk and examples of automation this is not necessary the case with all businesses. Notably, For the organisations in the study, respondents said the top business objectives over the next 12 months were increasing efficiency in operations (75%), accelerating their digital transformation (71%), and improving the experience of employees (69%). “Modernising travel and expense management is critical to achieving these business objectives,” observed Amadeus.

Another example of progress in this area has seen Centtrip, the global fintech providing expense management and card payment technology, announcing its launch in the US market. Centtrip is designed specifically for the needs of what are described as “highly mobile organisations,” notably those operating in marine, film and TV production, music, the wider arts and entertainment industries, and aviation.

The fintech, headquartered in London, has over 20,000 clients and users around the world, including the world’s largest superyachts, music’s top touring acts and world-renowned arts companies. Founded in 2015, by experts in payments, foreign exchange and technology, it now processes over USD1.3 billion in transactions each year and is experiencing rapid growth across all core markets as they emerge from the pandemic.

“We already have clients in the United States who use Centtrip globally and who wish to use it domestically. By expanding into the US with Adyen, we are giving highly mobile businesses in the most demanding sectors greater control, flexibility and visibility over their money and their expenses,” says Jane Turner, chief executive officer, Centtrip

The Centtrip platform works to give businesses real-time visibility and control over their expenses and card payments, helping them empower their people, streamline expense payment processes, reduce the cost and risk of carrying cash, and make the accounting process significantly easier. As one of the more flexible cards on the market, the Centtrip Mastercard offers high balance and transaction limits and is accepted worldwide.

Cardholders and authorised administrators can control the card directly from the Centtrip app, setting spend limits, freezing or unfreezing cards, and enjoying real-time visibility of transactions. Clients have the choice to either preload individual cards with funds (for example a cardholder’s available budget) or to have all cards on an account draw from the same, central account balance (in the same way that bank debit cards operate).

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