27th October, 2020
The significance of consumers feeling secure about their data, including personal information, and all other critical aspects of an individual’s association with a brand, for instance, their garnered loyalty currency, shouldn’t be undermined.
Almost 85% of consumers “are more loyal to companies that have strong security controls”, highlighted Bindu Gupta, Loyalty & Marketing Strategist, Comarch, Inc during the inaugural session of the LSA Fall Virtual Conference 2020 today. “Consumer loyalty to a brand is at a high risk. Brands cannot take loyalty for granted,” mentioned Bindu.
An attack on an entity’s data asset resulting in a breach or on a loyalty program is a big blow, more so at this juncture when teams are working remotely.
Bindu explained that loyalty is more than a rewards program. Trust is what brands must focus on and once this is established, it eventually results in more transactions (92% more likely to buy additional products and services). Also, “experience” offered too tends to make a huge difference. She also emphasized on the human element of customer experience. Three-fourth of customers tend to be interested in interacting with a human versus an automated machine. “Human connections are needed even more now,” said Bindu. She also mentioned that brands need to personalize the entire earn and rewards experience.
By Ritesh Gupta
23rd October, 2020
Bringing in more revenue, cutting down on expenditure, not falling prey to fraudsters’ tactics, improving processes and keeping pace with the regulatory requirements…airlines and travel merchants' goals haven’t changed but tactics must evolve in a significant way from here on.
A thorough discussion around a number of topics at the just concluded #ATPS Virtual Conference 2020 made it clear that merchants need to respond, as they attempt to “do more with less”. Some key lessons from Day 3:
Travel merchants are looking at rolling out new payment methods quickly and seamlessly as they assess ways to support immediate recovery. Increasing the number of payment methods emerged as the top priority (43%), as indicated by the audience during a poll conducted during #ATPS Pre-event Workshop on Alternative Forms of Payment.
Adnan Beig, Head of Airlines Strategy, Amadeus acknowledged that the trust issue must be delved into, and flexibility is going to be imperative going forward.
Michael Gulliver, Global Payments Manager, Webjet mentioned that fraud can be kept under the desired level. The blend of right data and right people is going to be paramount. He also shared that credit vouchers can be accepted, although for the same the regulatory aspect in a specific market also comes into the picture.
5. Collaboration: The role of various stakeholders was discussed in detail in the last session. It featured executives from Amadeus, including Adnan Beig, Klein Wang, Regional Head of Merchant Solutions, Asia Pacific, Amadeus, and Alessandro Monge, Payment Product Management, Amadeus. Wang mentioned that her team has been in regular touch with companies, conducting workshops and seeking feedback on an ongoing basis, with focus on automation and aiding airlines in improving the cash flow.
Monge spoke about the importance of PSD2 SCA in curbing fraud. The industry on the whole seems to be far from being fully prepared, but he said, “there is no way out, we must respect SCA (as an industry).”
By Ritesh Gupta
21st October, 2020
Travel merchants are closely evaluating the impact of the pandemic on several counts, and one of the key areas is related to working out a balanced payment strategy.
In order to work out the same, airlines not only must shape up a frictionless booking path for a better conversion rate but also need to evaluate how they can bring the cost of a transaction down, as they attempt to make the most of the situation. The top priority in terms of payment strategy post Covid19, as highlighted by Yuval Ziv, MD – Digital Payments, Nuvei, during the inaugural session of the #ATPS Virtual Conf. 2020, is to protect cash flow, and for the same airlines can focus on attractive non-cash offers. Referring to findings from a recent study, he said around 44% of those interviewed from the travel industry have indicated the same. Other aspects were as follows: reduce payment costs (25%), garner additional revenue (17%) and protect existing revenue i. e. to prevent fraud (15%).
Edgar, Dunn and Company’s Pascal Burg referred to the significance of payments data analytics and regular discussion with payment partners.
In the second session, Payment Universe’s Marco Conte mentioned that scammers haven’t spared any opportunity to create havoc. “Internal communication (sharing information between teams) and process improvements are needed,” he said. Plus, Conte also stressed on setting up an apt multi-acquiring set up and learning from the new normal by counting on refund and chargeback available data.
Support immediate recovery
CellPoint Digital’s CEO Kristian Gjerding spoke about the significance of payment orchestration. As for how it supports immediate recovery, the company asserted that such move would allow airlines to quickly add the payment methods customers prefer in each market during the checkout process, reducing cart abandonment and maximizing conversions. On the processing side, payment orchestration reduces the cost per payment transaction by dynamically routing payments to local acquirers to reduce cross-border traffic (and fees). Just a few percentage points improvement on an airline's conversion rate, authorisation rate, chargeback win-rate will make a huge impact on their operating margin. Payment orchestration helps them achieve that, so that's what they should focus on.
From an airline’s persective, Scott DeAngelo, EVP and CMO, Allegiant, mentioned that options like being flexible with payment or paying them in installments is a great way to boost the conversion rate. He said the installment payment offering fitted like a glove considering Allegiant’s strategic focus. As for embracing such payment option, DeAngelo referred to the significance of making travel affordable and accessible, and also the same playing a role in not just selling an airline seat, but also other aspects of travel including a hotel accommodation, car rental etc. So buy now pay later (BNPL) has a role to play in stepping up the average order value, be it via addition of an air ancillary or a non-air ancillary. Uplift’s VP-Commercial, Chris Stacey shared that his company, as specialist in BNPL and being 100%-focused on travel, has been counting on data and focusing on customer-friendly policies to offer a relevant payment product and approving more customers.
In a session about the handling of chargebacks and how to ensure customers don’t end up going to issuers, Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO, Chargebacks911 emphasised that it is imperative to maintain open and honest communication with customers regarding any delays or answering their queries. This can help in strengthening ties with customers, as the company shows the customer that it is aware of the situation. “Setting expectations proactively reduces chargebacks,” said Monica.
“Lack of information results in customers behaving badly,” she said. According to her, refund isn’t the only satisfactory answer.
Congrats Rebound Travel!
Rebound Travel emerged as the winner of Ai’s Lion’s Den Pitching Contest of new and innovative Payments and Fraud Prevention Solutions, held as a part of the conference.
The company won The Best Pitch award (Audience Poll) as well as bagged the Best Product award (Judges' Verdict).
The contest featured great presentations from three companies - Rebound Technologies, SecuredTouch and Pennies.
"What has lacked in the airline industry so far has been an innovative and cooperative approach to manage the refund process during this pandemic, according to Tobias Wessels, Founder at Rebound. The company provides the intelligence so that airlines offer the optimal offer type and value that motivates customers to choose an alternative offer to their refund while keeping the airline's opportunity cost as low as possible.
Stay tuned for Day 2 of #ATPS - https://lnkd.in/dHqfzvZ
By Ritesh Gupta
Secure remote commerce, chargeback management, lowering losses from false positives…a number of pertinent issues were discussed on the second day of ATPS Virtual Conference 2020.
22nd October, 2020
Travel merchants, including airlines, are understandably prioritizing projects that can contribute to their immediate recovery. As for supporting interactions and payment methods that are touchless or contactless, airlines are starting to respond to the same, though the pace of the same can’t be compared with some of the other verticals.
Speaking on the second day of #ATPS, Keith Wilson, Director Of Strategic Merchant Relations at Discover, acknowledged that contactless payment option has been around for 12-18 months or so in the U. S. “…(it has) been proliferating fairly quickly. (It) really ramped up because in the grocery stores and other places that you would go to - not having to touch things is definitely a huge benefit. We haven't seen a lot of movement in travel. Of course, in the travel industry, there is a lot of ticketing and reservation systems that would involve massive changes.” It still hasn’t turned out to be a huge priority yet, but as Wilson mentioned, one airline has started to implement and contactless EMV for onboard sales and several other airlines are investigating as well.
Wilson also referred to the adoption of secure remote commerce or SRC.
SRC specifications pave way for a consistent UX for shoppers and overall simplified checkout experience. This way a consumer doesn’t need to re-enter information on websites that support SRC, thereby speeding up checkout time and reducing abandonment. No need to create an account. A user who enrolls in SRC and chose to have their device remembered will checkout as a guest on a merchant website they have not visited before.
Amidst signs of recovery don’t ignore the threat of fraud
In terms of recovery, there was reference to The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening over 1 million passengers last Sunday. This meant that highest number of passengers were screened at TSA checkpoints since March 17 this year. Also, the weekly volume of 6.1 million, marked the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time fraudsters haven’t stopped targeting the travel industry even though the sector has suffered immensely over the last six months or so. Rather than waiting for bookings to pick up, it is imperative for travel merchants to find way to “understand users to avoid losing legitimate travel shoppers”, according to Hubert Rachwalski, CEO, Nethone.
Merchants shouldn’t rely only on historical transactional data, but as Rachwalski recommended, also take into consideration device info (spoofing detection, virtual machine detection etc.), network info (TOR detection, IP geo-location etc.) and behavioural info (e. g. mouse movement). Speaking at the #ATPS, he added that it is critical for any airline to lower the losses from false positives. “Evaluate the traffic in the background and pave way for a frictionless experience to shoppers,” he said.
One of the metrics Nethone uses to support the fact fraudsters are targeting the travel sector - is % of transaction attempts with signals triggered, i.e. 'Virtual Machine', 'Tor Network' and 60 others. And even though COVID-19 has caused the transaction volumes to drop sharply, the traffic with signals has almost doubled.
Looking at the future in a pragmatic way
Shazad Iqbal, Former Senior Payments Consultant (Commercial), British Airways referred to the significance of collaboration among various stakeholders, especially for data, for instance, in-depth analysis of transactions. Also, it is imperative to win back the confidence of travelers via transparent policies and initiatives. Motie Bring, CCO, Nuvei also acknowledged that airlines can look at their “systems and partnerships” to let travellers pay in the manner which makes them feel most secure and confident about their transaction.
In the same session, Fernando Souza, VP Global Travel & Transit Solutions, Cybersource referred to the rise in touchless payment experiences, for instance, the use of public transportation services are increasingly facilitating such options. “We are seeing reduction in personnel in the fraud management department,” added Souza, who added that airlines still need to improve automation of refund process.
Alex Zeltcer, CEO & Co Founder, nSure.ai highlighted that the industry is going to witness last minute transactions. In this context, can airlines avail a chargeback guarantee offering, that takes on the liability for any fraudulent transactions? Zeltcer also highlighted that fraudsters can continue to break through rules in fraud systems, and the role of data and machine learning is going to be critical.
Amine Boulaghmen, Head of Payment Facilitation Solutions, IATA shared that airlines have to respond to digitalization, for instance, acting as retailers to offer a superlative experience. Also, since carriers have been left with no choice but to respond to changes in consumer behavior and cash flow-related considerations, payment-related processes are being addressed and improved.
On the B2B payments side, the volatility, as expected, made the situation precarious for acquirers. How to understand all of the unique risks posed by airlines? A travel merchant might go out of business without delivering the bought service.
Brett Turner, Head of Global Airline Acquiring, SVP, Elavon highlighted the role of data. It is key to understanding contingent liability risk. “Help in understanding all moving parts like refund, vouchers etc. in overall tracking and managing of risk,” he said.
B2B travel payment options
In a session about how the relationship between airlines and travel agencies is evolving and is expected to shape up, Livia Vite, Head of Airline Partnerships, eNett highlighted that recovery initiatives post-COVID19 pandemic is going to result in a unique opportunity for both the stakeholders to work on a B2B travel payments approach to benefit all in the travel value chain. “With all the risks and costs to the travel distribution landscape magnified post-COVID, both airlines and agents are now very aware of payment risks,” said Livia.
Delving deep into what each of the stakeholder needs to introspect, she referred to various aspects of retail model from an agency’s perspective. For instance, in case agents decided not to become a merchant then are travel shoppers going to comfortable with multiple transactions appearing on their card statements? How would the agent compete against agencies using the retailer model?
For their part, airlines must re-visit how travel agencies help them to expand their reach in terms of their role in facilitating access to away markets, and catering for local payment preferences in these markets.
“Many airlines and agents are using this opportunity to rethink their payment and/or distribution strategies and to start the conversation,” mentioned Livia.
This topic was also discussed in the final session of the day featuring Pascal Burg, Director, Edgar Dunn & Company; Stephane Druet, SVP, Head of Product and Marketing, CellPoint Digital; and Christophe Kato, Assistant Director, IATA.
Druet also spoke about cutting down on the overall cost per payment transaction by dynamically routing payments to local acquirers to reduce cross-border traffic (and fees). The panelists also spoke about payment orchestration and the importance of automating back-end processes like settlement and reconciliation and incorporate fraud rules and regulatory compliance, all of which reduce chargebacks and fraud.
By Ritesh Gupta
15th October, 2020
Using a palm for a transaction, PSD2 SCA compliance, dealing with false declines… there are a number of payment-related areas that the travel industry needs to focus on at this juncture.
Main considerations are:
Hear from experts about what payment and fraud strategies do we need to take in order to return to profitability at #ATPS Virtual Conference 2020
Dates: 20-22 October
By Ritesh Gupta
Ai Editorial Team
12th October, 2020
Travel merchants are evaluating payment preferences in different markets.
The shift in consumers' shopping, eating and payment preferences can also give an indication of the same. A study initiated by PayPal in the U. S. has indicated that online grocery has increased by 4.5X, online retail has increased by 3.2X and online food ordering has increased by 4X.
Shoppers have embraced contactless or touch-free transactions.
“The coronavirus has accelerated a trend that was already in progress. The appetite for contactless payments is growing, so airlines can expect to see an increased demand for mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. As consumers regain the confidence to travel, they’ll expect airlines to support their payment needs - and travellers in different markets will have different preferences. Meeting those preferences in each region allows airlines to boost conversions and reduce abandoned transactions due to payment friction, or lack of available payment method,” Stephane Druet, SVP Product and Marketing at CellPoint Digital told Ai in a recent interview.
8th October, 2020
Fraud prevention specialists are delving into what sort of novel buying patterns are emerging as they look to foil fraudsters’ plans for fraudulent transactions.
A major concern, as always, is to ensure a fraudster’s attempt shouldn’t go unnoticed, whereas a genuine customer doesn’t end up being denied to pay for a transaction.
Think of evolving purchasing hours, device usage…there are too many variables to consider.
How to tackle the issue then?
Machine learning’s role in fraud detection can’t be undermined but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it takes time to recalibrate. Relying only on transactional data may not work at this juncture.
A human fraud analyst can take charge and control the situation, ensuring a genuine shopper’s experience isn’t hampered. Reviewing transactions manually is equally important. It is imperative to make the most of an automated machine learning system with a rules-based approach.
Cybersource aptly puts it – it is time to let merchants “play by their own rules”. If machine learning needs time to recalibrate to new trends, they can adjust settings themselves in their tools to minimize any negative impact. Analysts can work on business rules to eradicate false positives.
Join experts and explore new trends in payments and fraud at Ai’s Airline & Travel Payment Summit
#ATPS Virtual Conference 2020: 20 - 22 Oct 2020
6th October, 2020
Europol’s 2020 cybercrime report has highlighted the urgent need for the EU to step up the fight against organised online crime.
The report’s seventh annual edition, titled Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) 2020, fuelled “by a wealth of readily available data, as well as a Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) community, it has become easier for criminals to carry out highly targeted attacks”.
Criminal abuse of the dark web
The report also mentioned that the dark web environment has remained volatile, lifecycles of dark web market places have shortened, and no clear dominant market has risen over the past year compared to previous years to fill the vacuum left by the takedowns in 2019.
Europol shared that the value of being able to access data of criminal communication on an encrypted network is perhaps the most effective illustration of how encrypted data can provide law enforcement with crucial leads beyond the area of cybercrime.
5th October, 2020
Airlines can’t afford to let a booking slip by. E-commerce and payment technology specialists acknowledge that the way paying for essential daily needs and eventually other categories has shaped up during the pandemic, it is imperative for airlines to look at several aspects including their payment infrastructure, payment options, cost reduction, UX and conversion etc.
“The challenge for airlines, apart from the immediate cash crunch and stop in travel demand, is re-tooling their digital payment systems to streamline direct-channel bookings and reduce cost per transaction,” Stephane Druet, SVP Product and Marketing at CellPoint Digital told Ai’s Ritesh Gupta in an interview. He added in the recovery phase – whenever we get to it – the question will be, “how can we do a lot more with less?”
Significance of payment orchestration
Payment orchestration is a strategic move to give airlines competitive advantage over the long run, but it will also be a great tactical move to support immediate recovery. If on one hand their focus is on intelligent routing that will dynamically optimise the routing of each transaction via such a network, on the other the plan is to work on an omni-channel experience and the ease of one-click payments, along with localized options in all the markets.
Druet said payment orchestration allows a merchant to quickly add the payment methods customers prefer in each market during the checkout process, reduce cart abandonment and maximize conversion. On the processing side, payment orchestration reduces the cost per payment transaction by dynamically routing payments to local acquirers to reduce cross-border traffic (and fees).
“Just a few percentage points improvement on an airline's conversion rate, authorisation rate, chargeback win-rate will make a huge impact on their operating margin. Payment orchestration helps them achieve that, so that's what they should focus on,” mentioned Druet.
A modern payment ecosystem that is governed by a payment orchestration platform simplifies and modernizes legacy payment systems and facilitates a truly omni-channel approach to payments. Airlines need to ensure this capability shouldn’t prove to be a costly and time-consuming initiative.
“By the same token, it's not feasible for airlines to build connections with all the players in the payment space. Integrating individually with acquirers, payment processers, fraud partners and other providers is far too complex to manage effectively. But integrating with a single payment orchestration platform that can handle all aspects of the payment processes is simple, and can allow airlines to reduce cost and boost efficiency all while retaining the flexibility to shift when the market dictate,” said Druet.
He added, “Many airlines outsource their payment systems to a PSP and their PSS provider, under the assumption that a single vendor relationship will create simplicity. But these gateways tend to divert transactions to their own acquiring business, rather than to other acquirers who may offer a better transaction and authorization rate for the airline’s payment – and making modifications can be cumbersome. By eliminating their reliance on third-party payment providers, payment orchestration allows airlines to set the direction of their payment strategy and move nimbly to achieve it.”
“We believe payment orchestration really has the potential to be a silver bullet, at least in terms of transaction routing, authorisation rates and the ability to roll out new payment methods quickly and seamlessly,” he said.
In short, payment orchestration allows airlines to unify all components of a transaction under a single control layer. For cross-border merchants like airlines, this means integrating the right mix of regional and global payment partners (PSPs, acquiring banks) to optimize acceptance rates and minimize cost. A good payment orchestration platform will also automate back-end processes like settlement and reconciliation and incorporate fraud rules and regulatory compliance, all of which reduce chargebacks and fraud.
Payment orchestration synchronizes the flow of data and currency across channels and in concert with existing systems like reservation systems or loyalty programs and harmonizes any differences in format. And importantly, it facilitates the rapid deployment of new payment methods to meet customer expectations and preferences in various markets.
Getting ready for new payment methods
Supporting new payment methods is already on the priority list of airlines.
Shoppers have embraced contactless or touch-free transactions. The coronavirus has accelerated a trend that was already in progress, acknowledged Druet.
“The appetite for contactless payments is growing, so airlines can expect to see an increased demand for mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. As consumers regain the confidence to travel, they’ll expect airlines to support their payment needs - and travellers in different markets will have different preferences. Meeting those preferences in each region allows airlines to boost conversions and reduce abandoned transactions due to payment friction, or lack of available payment method,” he said.
A payment orchestration platform significantly reduces the time to market for rolling out new payment methods, as integrating a new Alternative Method of Payment (AMOP) happens within the platform itself, not across individual systems. This allows airlines to pivot to meet travellers’ different payment preferences in different markets, and to do so without waiting in queue for a third-party provider to build out the necessary integration, explained Druet.
Airlines have to gear up for a mechanism that can support payment methods that customers value and prefer. In the current environment, that means contactless payments and digital wallets like Apple Pay. In the future, that may mean something else.
“Regardless of the COVID-19 crisis, the payments ecosystem continues to diversify, so it's not about supporting one method of payment over another. It’s about having the flexibility to deploy new payment methods when customers demand them, and to be able to do so at minimal cost and maximum speed. Consumers will pay in the manner which makes them feel most secure and confident about their transaction; it's up to airlines to meet them at that point. A payment orchestration platform helps them do that,” said Druet.
#ATPS Pre-event workshop on payment orchestration for airlines: Why, what and how?
Tuesday October 13, 2020, 6PM (GMT+8), 12:00 PM CET, 6:00 AM EST
1st October, 2020
Travel merchants are looking at rolling out new payment methods quickly and seamlessly as they assess ways to support immediate recovery.
Increasing the number of payment methods emerged as the top priority (43%), as indicated by the audience during a poll conducted during the #ATPS Pre-event Workshop on Alternative Forms of Payment, featuring executives from UATP, Trustly and Fly Now Pay Later. Other priorities were as follows - modernizing payment systems (30%) and to accept payments internationally (22%).
This approach is expected to help travel companies keep pace with latest advancements in this sector, as payments will likely continue to be a very hot and competitive sector for fintech investment. Also, with more options, merchants can only improve upon the CX and step up their conversion rate. Initiatives, led by investors, in this sector have already underlined the growing importance of APIs and open data.
As for the payment challenges at this juncture, an increase in “chargebacks/ refunds” was listed as the top issue (74%).
Interestingly, in a poll for how travelers will pay post-Covid, installments (43%) and mobile wallets (36%) came out as the top two options. The growth in installment payments has accelerated during the pandemic. The likes of airlines, hotels, OTAs etc. are considering this form of payment to be a key tool in their recovery. In case of mobile wallets, they are also expected to gain popularity because both merchants and consumers deem touch-free mobile payment as a safer and secure option.
Opportunity to improve not only improve infrastructure but also CX
Travel merchants must look at accelerating certain initiatives post diligent evaluation considering that they are trying to match revenue generation with cost being incurred to run operations.
Simon Eve, Head of Sales, Trustly, a panelist, asserted that it is an apt period for airlines and other travel players to balance their respective payment infrastructure when it comes to mitigating risk and evaluate better handling of chargebacks with alternative payment methods such as enabling travel shoppers to make fast and secure payments directly from their online banking accounts, without going through the card networks. Expanding on the same, Loee Matousek, VP Sales, Trustly referred to ease of use and cost reduction from a shoppers’ perspective along with key aspects such as guaranteed payment and saving money on a transaction for a merchant to embrace such payment option.
The travel sector struggled with the issue of refunds and chargebacks this year, but payment technology specialists highlight that there are ways to eradicate certain painpoints. And one way is to embrace alternate payment options that can resolve the issue amicably, right from offering a relevant choice to communicating properly to streamlining the refund process.
Acknowledging the same, Sophia Melas, Head of Germany, Fly Now Pay Late, said, “We have robust communication tools in place, dedicated to the travel industry. We facilitate communication between airlines and customers.” She added, “Our refund is as simple as the payment acceptance process.”
These players are also working on plans to improve their product that can help in stepping up the average booking value.
Another notable aspect is their expansion plans. Trustly has already announced that it is expanding its offering to Australia and Canada, going beyond existing coverage in Europe and the US. For its part, Fly Now Pay Later raised €39 million, and is too gearing up for expansion.
All of this means airlines and other travel companies are rightly chosen to expand their payment mix and along with it placing themselves in a position to eradicate common painpoints for coming out stronger from this precarious situation.
By Ritesh Gupta
Ai Editorial Team
Join experts and explore new trends in payments and fraud at Ai’s Airline & Travel Payment Summit - #ATPS Virtual Conference 2020:
Dates: 20 - 22 Oct 2020