The Changing World of Payments

Helping optimize benefits and achieve corporate card success

Key takeaways

  • Companies are embracing new tech-driven solutions to create a digital edge
  • The growing popularity of contactless payments and mobile wallets among consumers is creating demand for these capabilities in a business context
  • Consumers and workforces will continue to drive greater demand for digital payments, supported by demographic shifts, ESG concerns and a post-Covid environment.

From European political volatility to new disruptive payment technologies, companies are spotting new opportunities in the transforming world. Nearly eight in ten payment transactions globally are now contactless1, with growth predicted to expand to $37.23 billion in 2025.2 Similarly, the mobile wallet space has witnessed a massive 36.5% growth year-on-year.3 Despite the uncertainty that comes with change, forward-thinking businesses are embracing technological advances to achieve greater efficiency and convenience. Bank of America has responded agilely to these trends, and offers contactless and mobile wallet capabilities on commercial cards globally.

The adoption of contactless payments

Change in the corporate sphere is closely related to what is happening with consumers, but there tends to be a lag between the two. However, for the types of innovation that usually begin among consumers, the lag is shrinking. Employees are increasingly combining business and leisure travel—and as they get accustomed as consumers to an increasingly virtual environment, they are starting to expect the same capabilities in a business context. A clear example of this is the increased popularity of contactless business payments.
 
  • While not every business transaction can leverage a contactless feature due to size limits, it is attractive for low-value payments.
  • For example, travelling around London is more convenient with contactless payments, since they effectively replace legacy contactless travel cards (Oyster card) on trains and buses.
  • There has also been a rapid growth of contactless payments in general, as evidenced by the fact that contactless overtook Chip and PIN to become the most popular form of card payment for in-store transactions in the UK.4
  • Following this change in demand, increasing numbers of issuers are offering contactless commercial cards globally.

Opportunities and challenges

One immediate client concern we hear is whether contactless transactions make it harder to approve business expenses. However, most merchants still provide a receipt for contactless transactions. The development of mobile capabilities is also helping improve reconciliation for contactless payments. Moreover, many companies have embraced the changing travel environment and adapted their T&E policy to eliminate receipt requirements for low-value transactions. This enables companies to meet their requirements and employees to enjoy convenient business travel through the quick tap of a contactless card.

 

Using mobile wallets for business expenses continues to be a big area of change. Mobile devices not only enable access to and exchange of payment-related information, but they represent huge potential for the payment process. Many have already embraced mobile wallet solutions on the consumer side, and companies are following closely behind. “Mobile devices have the potential to replace the physical payment card in the coming years,” says Bank of America’s David Voss, head of Commercial Cards, Global Transaction Services EMEA.

 

  • Mobile wallet offers a contact-free payment experience that reduces the risk of Covid-19, and is also eco-friendly due to the cashless nature.
  • Beyond the ease of not needing a physical card, mobile wallet payments are more secure due to new authentication options and tokenization technology.
  • Because it is Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) exempt, mobile wallet also enhances the cardholder experience by reducing payment friction
  • Using biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition, payments can integrate and enable better security within the eCommerce environment.
  • In addition, mobile wallet transactions do not have a contactless limit and offer increased security over traditional card payments by using a tokenized account number.  This means the actual account number is never stored within the mobile device nor presented to a merchant to complete the transaction.

 

Currently, China uses mobile wallet the most, with $800 billion in transactions and 70% of Chinese consumers using it frequently. This is several times larger than the United States, which has the second most mobile wallet transactions totaling $110 billion, and the global adoption is expected to continue rapidly.5

Closing the gap

As is often the case, the real challenge is adapting to change. Familiarity is a big part of why old habits die hard. As more consumers embrace digital payments, accelerated by demographic shifts, ESG concerns and a post Covid-19 environment, the challenge will become even easier for businesses to overcome. The gap is closing between consumer and corporate behavior, enabling businesses and business travelers to increase efficiency, visibility and security by using advanced technology.

Authored by:

David Voss, Head of Commercial Cards, EMEA, Bank of America

1Mastercard Newsroom, “Mastercard study shows consumers moving to contactless payments for everyday purchases as they seek cleaner, touch-free options” - April 2020

2Market Data Forecast Global Contactless Payment Market Research Report - February 2020

3Payments Card and Mobile Report - February 2020

4Finextra, "Contactless overtakes Chip and PIN for in-store transactions" - October 2018

5Payments Card & Mobile, “Global mobile wallet market value set to reach $1 trillion in 2020” - February 2020