Ai Editorial: Coming to grips with friendly fraud is like anticipating damage control

First published on 17th August, 2016

Ai Editorial: Given the growth in card-not-present transaction volume, airlines need to be proactive to understand what triggers friendly fraud and how to deal with it, writes Ritesh Gupta from Kuala Lumpur


Airlines are constantly looking at ways to minimize the impact of chargebacks and one of the topics keenly discussed during the 5th ATPS Asia Pacific was “friendly fraud”.

Unlike fraud initiated by a criminal, friendly fraud is the case where a “cardholder” claims fraud for a transaction they were involved in.  This type of fraud is hard to deal with as the legitimate cardholder uses the card with all of the correct information, and then disputes the same. What works against airlines and merchants is the fact that chargeback dispute procedure doesn’t support them, as banks and credit card organizations tends to seek only a small amount of proof from customers to corroborate a dispute claim.

Speaking here in Kuala Lumpur, Brett Small, Regional Director, APAC – Ethoca, mentioned that friendly fraud refers to “fraud that is committed when an individual had knowledge of and/or was complicit with and/or somehow benefited from the transaction on their own account, although the individual reported the transaction as unauthorized”.

Talking of airlines, Small said in case of airlines, friendly fraud is generally the result of buyer’s remorse, additional charges or fees, disagreement with refund rules, and a transaction that is completed by another party. He also explained the spectrum of behavior – varying from a benign one that generally involves a household/ family member (so may be a traveller is on the check-out page on a device, and someone inadvertently clicks to complete the transaction. So the cardholder was unaware of purchase made by a household member. Or as Small said it could be a simple case of just not recognizing the purchase – descriptor issue, statement is confusing, etc.) to the cardholder deliberately abusing the system with the intent to commit fraud. 

Issues for merchants

Friendly fraud is difficult to distinguish from genuine fraud and even harder to prove for merchants:

·         Difficult to detect at time of purchase.

·         Issuers usually accept a customer’s assertion.

·         The chargeback process does not adequately address friendly fraud.

·         There is no way of collaborating with issuers.

·         High impact to customers and risk of social media damage.

·         Time consuming and labour intensive.

Why issuers struggle?

Explaining how issuers comprehend friendly fraud and the way it can be dealt,  Small highlighted that friendly fraud is difficult to distinguish from genuine fraud.

·         Issuers cannot see what is purchased.

·         It may involve a dispute with a merchant that issuers are unaware of.

·         Issuers are under pressure internally and from regulators to believe and refund customers.

·         Issuers have thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of disputes per month.

·         Issuers ask customers questions to try and validate disputes and also look for repeat disputers. But, cardholders have learnt how to “use” the system.

Issues being raised, but long way to go

Friendly fraud has raised the overall chargeback level, making acquirers more watchful about accepting risk liability. The industry has been looking at this issue, for instance, Visa last year chose to accept airline-supplied flight manifests as a remedy for fraud payment card chargebacks (when the passenger name matches the cardholder name).  As explained by Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO, Chargebacks911, in one of her recent blog posts, initiatives taken such as one taken by Visa are being taken to help fraud-burdened merchants, but still it isn’t a definitive solution. She asserts that savvy consumers continue to exploit loopholes and merchants still report significant losses. She recommends that fraud filters need to work better. Also, merchants need to be sharp enough to understand the buying behavior, and consumers need to understand that their actions have consequences, and that getting involved in friendly fraud is going to have detrimental impact eventually.

More specifically, airlines need to look into booking history and any other internal and external data sources to verify travel. Evaluating customers’ chargeback history can be useful, too.

“There is a need to leverage merchant historical data -  card number + device/ IP address for previous orders. Also, make household profiles and link all their devices. On another note, one may call the cardholder when it makes sense. This is based upon transaction amount, customer relationship, evidence etc,” said Small. “Airlines can look at implementing simple, clear refund policies. But, don’t be too easy as the new trend is refund abuse,” cautioned Small.

Other areas that can help:

·         Chargeback representments (if evidence exists.)

·         Using modified merchant descriptors.

·         Making change and refund policies clear in the booking flow and post booking communications.

As it turns out, completely doing away with chargeback fraud isn’t a possibility, though curtailing the risk of such kind of credit card fraud is possible. Airlines have to count on ways to avert the danger of becoming a victim of friendly fraud. Merchant-issuer collaboration is essential and can play a big role in dealing with such malicious behavior.  

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Ai Editorial: False declines can be dealt with liability shift and fraud detection

First Published on August 16, 2016

Ai Editorial: Airlines need to dig deeper, be it for taking advantage of the liability shift rule for full 3D Secure optimization or being savvy with fraud detection on their platforms, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


How is the travel industry dealing with the issue of transactions wrongly declined due to suspected fraud?

It is a serious issue as an indifferent customer experience can result in customers cutting down on their card usage or even abandoning it altogether. Yes, merchants are more liable for card-not- present (CNP) transactions today but they also need to be wary of the repercussions of a purchase decline that isn’t a fraudulent one.

Of course, the first major impact is the value of the order. Now all the money spent on getting a customer close to completing a transaction is also wasted. So be it for a print ad or remarketing campaign, the cost of acquisition is negatively affected. Then one should also consider the probable lifetime value that is lost when a genuine traveller’s order is erroneously declined.

Working in tandem

In this context, all stakeholders need to work on apt card authorisation strategies.

So when we talk of stakeholders working in tandem, there is a need to constrict your acceptance gap. It is pointed out that there tends to be a gap in acceptance as banks today are more wary of remote/ card not present transactions. Plus, there have been data violations/ incidents of fraud and also merchants have the tendency to deny transactions from particular geographical areas.  So by cutting down on this gap, one can benefit by authenticating those transactions, which have a higher likelihood of being authorized.

Making the most of what we have

So if we talk of what can be done, there is a need to make the most of what is available.

For instance, a travel company I spoke to referred to 3D Secure, and how this offering is different from other payment fraud prevention solutions.

3D Secure’s code is rooted in the authorization message from beginning to end when we consider settlement. This spans multiple parties and servers. One can reap benefits by focusing on troubleshooting and monitoring of the service, and linking various 3rd parties involved.  The data elements obtained from the authentication are shared with the issuer. The same enables issuers to amend their authorization risk settings and tie the authorization to the authentication.

Issuers who have deployed a risk based authentication mechanism will contest or assess transactions that seem doubtful. This way they can flush out fraudsters and cut down on false-positive declines. So before authorization they can spot danger. Based on the risk level they are then able to challenge the consumer with knowledge based questions or one-time pin numbers sent via SMS.

Here it needs to be mentioned that as per the real experience of those of who have benefited from 3D Secure,  it is being indicated that the end to end interoperability of 3D Secure eradicates the speculation once associated with CNP commerce.

As we learnt from Amtrak, the key to full 3D Secure optimization and effectiveness is to take advantage of the liability shift rule and to front load 3D Secure into your risk model. The company was able to lean on this new found component of the 3D Secure protocols to not only cut fraud but also increase sales. “Issuers have lower decline rates because they have better data across the lifecycle of the card. By giving the issuer the ability to silently interject themselves into the checkout make a risk determinant will allow you to expand your risk systems beyond your walls,” shared a source.

As for being realistic, one needs to ensure that the right tools are in place, too. You can't just go to market with a vanilla 3D Secure MPI provider and expect it to work.

Being savvy with algorithms

The fraud problem is boosting the false positive issue. Merchants, acquirers and issuers decline far more good transactions than bad.

“No industry is affected more by false-positives than the travel industry,” highlighted one executive.

Its true indeed as high ticket items along with the high potential for fraud results in the highest false-positives averages online.  So every travel company needs to identify how to implement static rules, ones related to behavior of a user, and also device fingerprinting.

Multi-factor authentication is also being counted upon to bring down false positives. For instance, this way one can step up approvals for new account openings, as they say, across thin-file leads with limited credit histories. Some of the options include commonly used one-time passwords (logging on to a network or service using a unique password which can only be used once or 1-time passcode based on the token’s secret to ensure authentication); certificate-based authentication (blends a public and private encryption key unique to each device; context-based authentication (optimizes a layered approach to access security by assessing user login attributes and matching them against pre-defined security policies).

Talking of Chip and PIN versions of EMV cards, one needs to be careful as it has both positive and negative sides to it. Airlines need to build trust and strengthen security. Today there are ID checking services available that use online and social media identity data, ID documents and facial biometric checks to prove that a person is who they say they are.

Lastly, whatever move is made it needs to be checked minutely. For instance, it is being stressed that one shouldn’t use biometrics in client-server architectures (not suitable for use as a factor in two-factor authentication). This is because credentials are sent over the wire (both LAN/WAN and the Internet). Since such authentication can’t be taken off,  it needs to be assessed in which situations it can be potentially compromised.

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Ai’s Editorial: Is travel figuring prominently in “wearable future”?


First Published on 11th August, 2016

Ai Editorial: Wearable adds more touchpoints to every passenger journey, but is anything new, exciting happening? The long-term utility beyond health and notifications isn’t clear, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


Where is wearable technology headed?

It’s a broad question, but there is a reason behind not jumping on to the utility for the travel sector.

The way today’s gadgets are shaping up, we expect them to deliver on multiple counts. So when I use my smartphone and smartwatch (say, paired together the way Apple products are), I expect to press lesser number of tabs (for instance, every time there is an interview scheduled in my email I expect my phone would send me a reminder without me pressing on a calendar tab), send useful notifications (say I have booked a room via an OTA app. On the day of the check-in, when I reach the vicinity of the hotel, I should be guided by my smartphone to reach the hotel) etc. So I am expecting a lot more all the time.

Frankly speaking, the lure of using a smartwatch hasn’t increased and it has failed to go beyond simple notifications. There is buzz that speech recognition and text-to-speech is set to improve, but it remains to be seen what is going to happen next. At this stage, simple experiences like third party apps not working on smartwatches seem to be an issue. When usage of apps doesn’t work it is quite frustrating.

“Smartwatches have limited capability to “keep going” while not connected to their host smartphones. However, we’re now well into “second generation” of wearable systems. The latest versions of Android Wear and upcoming version of Apple Watch now feature more “standalone” functionality. The Pebble has had this over 3 years, however,” says Ireland-based Kevin O’Shaughnessy, founder of, a search and reservation platform for airport-to-city transfers. “The killer app for the watch so far has been notifications and simple “one-button” actions. These prove quite popular with long-time users. On day-of-travel this can take the stress out of the journey for many frequent flyers. Watch technology also features payments, but only in limited markets. The tap-to-pay, whether by card or devices, makes everyday travel simpler.”

He further added, “We’re now at a watershed moment with the “Wait spinner” on Apple Watch, for example. If Apple doesn’t take urgent measures to make the device more responsive, whether with better software or a new generation of watch, I worry about the long-term utility beyond health and notifications.”

Travel sector

I am not too savvy, but after reading about the role of a smartwatch, it is clear that data is being tracked with the current generation of wearables.  

In its list of 10 compelling wearable device experiences over the next two years, Gartner mentioned biometric authentication, mobile health monitoring, virtual personal assistants, smart coaching, virtual and augmented reality, accurate motion recognition etc. The study also added that there is “genuine scope for wearables to create intelligent personalized experiences that really add value”. Overall, in comparison, the travel sector has to catch up. Yes, experts do pick developments such as the Starwood application for Apple Watch (unlocking room door in the hotel by the simple tap of a button) as a positive experience. One can also access stay details, including check-in, checkout and confirmation number, or points. Still it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the travel sector is lagging behind the likes of retail, healthcare and gaming when it comes to the “wearable future”.

“We have yet to see the travel industry tap into the “contextual purchase”,” says O’Shaughnessy.

He says the entire mobile ecosystem has the potential to eliminate the “point of sale” entirely, leaving staff to focus on customer service in retail, for example. “When it comes to notifications and proximity technology, mobile has the potential to reduce the hustle commonly seen at departure gates. With wearable, this can make the experience even more streamlined, and communication more personalised. On a personal note, I’ve yet to board a European flight smoothly with Passbook on my watch,” shared O’Shaughnessy. 

What should airlines expect in the future?

I spoke to O’Shaughnessy about specific areas.

Data, analytics and personalisation: Wearable adds more touch-points to every passenger journey. “Airlines that thrive in this space will also thrive in mobile and next-generation web tools. The critical factors are payment technology, and moving toward account or virtual-account based relationships. The connection with loyalty programmes is open too,” shared O’Shaughnessy. Wearables can bank on being more connected to the user’s physical body than any smartphone or mobile device. Let’s see what the travel industry can bring. May be a chatbot via wearables – say that can guide me to a change in terminal at the airport with clear instructions without looking at the screens or booking a table at a particular restaurant with clear instructions about how far the restaurant is from my gate. Just random thoughts about one aspect of our journey.

Risk of data breach: Can my Apple Watch be hacked? There already have been concerns over personal health data being leaked. O’Shaughnessy says so far, this is a marginal risk. As devices become more capable, this may change.

Payments: Behind the scenes, the payment industry is changing entirely; when more banks in more markets adopt tokenization, we’ll see the applications first on mobile, second on wearable. Think about smoother, simpler payments, said O’Shaughnessy. There have been developments where companies like the Swiss watchmaker Swatch are gearing up to let consumers take their watch close to contactless terminals enabled for NFC (near field communication) technology, and avail contactless payment service.

Ancillaries: With more opportunities to sell, more opportunities to capture ancillary revenue opens. This will be powered by inventory but also analytics. Some examples:

·          Book your taxi on arrival 

·          In-flight beverage/catering sales

·          Sale of security fast-track passes

·          Re-accommodation and flight status updates as a premium service

The IoT (or Internet of Things) future shaped by wearables: Wearables is one aspect of the Mobile or IoT space. As one of the first consumer IoT segments, this will push technology towards “longer battery life” and “better processing power” in order to make products more competitive over time.


Kevin O’Shaughnessy is scheduled to speak at the upcoming 5th Airline & Travel Payments Summit Asia-Pacific. It is scheduled to take place next week (17-18 Aug) in Kuala Lumpur.

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Event’s Twitter hashtag: #ATPS

Ai Editorial: No shortcut when it comes to loyalty fraud

First published on 3rd August, 2016

When we talk of loyalty fraud, balancing security, revenue optimization and above all no comprise in delivering a desired customer experience is a must, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


Airlines dread the thought of ending up being a victim of loyalty fraud. Be it for costs associated, poor customer experience or reputation taking a beating, any fraudulent activity can prove to be a strenuous act to cope up with.

Loyalty program fraud largely tends to revolve around purchase of points or miles via fraudulent or stolen credit cards, and taking over of loyalty accounts by a cheat/ imposter, who generally redeems the points or miles. Considering the fact that airlines present more earning and redemption options today, mainly via partnerships and rewards ecosystems, this also means that the overall loyalty earning and burning lifecycle has paved way for new means of fraud. As we gear up for Loyalty Fraud Prevention Discussion Group APAC (a complimentary meeting to stop the threat of loyalty fraud), scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur (22 August, 2016), we thought of highlighting some of the ways one can mitigate and protect respective programs against this illegitimate exercise.

·          Monitor activity: Airlines need to assess the possibility of fraud at the point of transaction, including the purchase or redemption of points or miles. Also, as CyberSource recommends, carriers need to shield accounts in their loyalty programs. One needs to identify fraud at account creation and login, and monitor accounts for suspicious activity. It is recommend that one should assess monitor device information throughout the customer lifecycle, from the account opening to account login and transactional activity.  

·          Keeping data/ information secure: Customers hate identify theft, so keeping such data secure is a must. Of course, if airlines fail when it comes to custodial responsibility to secure customer information, the trust factor takes a beating. According to a global study (in December 2015) by a digital security specialist Gemalto, around 64% of people surveyed worldwide are unlikely to shop or do business again with a company that had experienced a breach where financial information was stole​n, and almost half (49%) had the same opinion when it came to data breaches where personal information was stolen.

·          Stringent verification: There is a need to go beyond conventional passwords and PIN based approach. As highlighted by Visa, biometrics offer “the only way to link” a person’s physical identity to his or her digital identity. Biometric authentication features fingerprints, facial recognition to authenticate one’s identity. This is something that cannot be replicated with ease.      

·          Being savvy with data: Connexions Loyalty asserts that it’s imperative to link data sets with identities, i. e customer loyalty data with customer transactional data, social and digital behavior, demographics etc.  

·          CX shouldn’t be jeopardized: Any measure taken to prevent fraud shouldn’t jeopardize the customer experience. Stronger collaboration is required, with fraud prevention, IT and marketing interacting regularly to ensure a loyal customer is offered a superlative experience.

·          Create awareness: I generally don’t even access my loyalty account till it’s time to redeem an award. Does this give a fraudster a window to act? Airlines need to inform their loyalty program members to be more vigilant, share information about breaches and the significance of setting new password from time to time.

Meticulous approach

Overall, airlines need to look at a meticulous fraud initiative that is fit for particular needs, featuring real-time monitoring method, including analytics, scoring, device data, product based rules, behavioural monitoring, and geographic analysis.

Its time airlines make the most of machine-learning and rules-based systems to combat this malice. Taking a look at the bigger picture, online fraud is a massive issuer. According to an initiative taken by the Europol in June, an international law enforcement operation targeting airline fraudsters resulted in the detention and investigation of 140 individuals found in possession of tickets bought using stolen or fake credit card details. Those arrested during the operation “were also found to be involved in other forms of crimes, including human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism”. Talking of rewards fraud detection and prevention, it definitely calls for a long-term plan. Balancing security, revenue optimization and above all no comprise in delivering a desired customer experience is a must.


Ai is scheduled to conduct the Loyalty Fraud Prevention Discussion Group APAC, a complimentary meeting to stop the threat of loyalty fraud, in Kuala Lumpur (22 August, 2016).

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Event’s Twitter hashtag: #MegaAPAC

Ai Editorial: Shielding traveller’s data and combating fraud as an OTA

First published on 20th June, 2016

Ai Editorial: Be it for shielding customers’ information or nullifying fraudsters’ move to grab funds, OTAs have to be alert all the time, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta  


Online travel agencies (OTAs), even the established global intermediaries, tend to be vulnerable when it comes to online fraud.

There are a couple of issues. One of them is fraudsters gaining access to contact details of customers. OTAs frequently receive complaints from customers about unauthorized credit card transactions. Plus there are areas where OTAs can be at the receiving end. Of course, nobody would like to face implications in case they end up with excessive fraud and chargeback rates.

Merchants are expected to adapt their risk settings and business practices accordingly to ensure fraud and chargeback levels are at an acceptable level.

The likes of have had problems in the past as far as customer data is concerned. Also, fraud today is as an organized crime. I spoke to a couple of OTAs in the Asia Pacific to gain insight into 5 key areas/ trends:

-       Protecting customer’s data

It is imperative to shield customers’ personal and financial information. Otherwise it can severely impact a brand’s image. Travel companies need to understand how hackers are gaining access to system data or server functionality. The breach of data is happening and it could be owing to a web application getting manipulated and a fraudster tricks that application into performing commands and accessing data. Another way is to get hold of an authorized account via focus on session IDs, and eventually stealing them.

Experts recommend that additional steps can be implemented to curtail risk of credit card and personal data exposure, such as compartmentalization and tokenization on the inside of the company’s DMZ (Demilitarized zone. Network added between a private and a public network to provide additional layer of security). This is being considered to be a vital add-on to firewalls and external fraud measures. Such mechanism keeps a tab, acts and reports on dubious activity and can feature configurable fraud-alert rule sets, data- profiling modules, and other validation methods. Also, at another level, it is important to know how to strike a balance while focusing on stringent fraud rules. Otherwise this can result in reduced acceptance and revenue.                                                       

-       Going beyond passwords

It is being highlighted that password is no longer the best way to authenticate users. In fact, there is a need to go beyond conventional passwords and PIN based approach.

As highlighted by Visa, biometrics offer “the only way to link” a person’s physical identity to his or her digital identity. Biometric authentication features fingerprints, facial recognition to authenticate one’s identity. This is something that cannot be replicated with ease. Also, from a user experience perspective, there is no need to remember a password. However, an OTA executive mentioned that biometric authentication is still in its nascent stages as far as intermediaries in the region are concerned.

Also, Visa is working with EMVCo to develop an updated and enhanced version of 3D Secure, paving way for more consistent UX across various payment channels, including mobile web, in-app etc. The company has asserted that 3DS version 2.0 will offer a more seamless checkout experience via intelligent risk-based decisioning.

This sort of authentication features data to assess genuine user behaviour, device, location and other well-known characteristics, so there’s less need to ask for a password. 

-       Sudden spurt in dubious activity from one region

A senior executive from Mumbai-based OTA shared that there tends to be sudden spurts in fraudulent activity from one market/ country. For instance, last year it related to “seemingly Russian citizens” booking itineraries featuring a particular LCC in the Middle East. “The bookings featured destinations like Moscow, Kiev, Bishkek etc. Most of the passengers booked through these transactions sounded like Russian citizens (female names ending with “ova” or male ones ending with “ev”.” The carrier had strict policies, and before the OTA could verify and reach out to the airline, fraudsters were cancelling those flights, and gaining credit vouchers for future bookings. “We eventually decided to cancel the sector.” And this year, the same executive referred to “Indonesia fraud”, where fraudsters are using cards issued in the U. K., US and Australia, and booking same day check-in hotels and non-refundable/ non-cancellable airlines. Lot of activity is related to travel and booking of hotels in Indonesia.

There are tools in place that can differentiate between threats and genuine transactions by pinpointing the buyer’s location.

-       Reviewing cancellations also shared that it has been working on plans to curb virtual wallet fraud. “In this case, a fraudster does the fraud transaction using international card and cancels the trip to obtain the refund in a virtual wallet. The same can then be used for future booking. It also surpasses all the fraud conditions due to payment mode.” So rather than funds going back to the original instrument after cancellation, when fraudsters decide to cancel a booking they put into a private closed wallet. So reviews such cancellations, and nullifies the action taken by a fraudster. Rather the money is sent back to the credit card or the original instrument. “We revert in quick time,” shared the executive, who also referred to discount coupon fraud (the fraudster finds out a loophole in the system and uses the code to obtain false cashback).

-       Relying on machine learning

While the moments between when a shopper clicks “buy” and when a merchant must deliver a reservation seems fast to us, it’s plenty of time for a computer to recognize a bad user or reward a good one with a smooth, easy buying experience. A flexible and online (instead of offline) machine learning system can start learning the second a user lands on your site, gathering behavioral data so you can spot a suspicious user long before he enters a stolen credit card number and you get hit with the inevitable chargeback. Armed with actionable machine learning findings, a business can create an adaptive checkout flow, that is tailored based on how risky each user is.

One of the best things about using machine learning is that it automatically learns about new fraud patterns in real time so you don’t have to keep close tabs on new tactics.

Moving on

Fraudsters always move on. Managing online fraud is an ongoing initiative, one that needs constant improvisation for better results. If this is not the case, then a travel organization would end up being a soft target.

Here it needs to be mentioned that the booking experience of a customer shouldn’t be jeopardized.

I know of an instance where an airline called up my colleague in the U. S. past mid-night, who had booked me for a trip in Asia. The airline had concerns about the itinerary, considering that the booker was in the U. S. But my colleague felt the check needed to be more vigilant, considering that the airline had information about him, and disturbed his sleep by calling at 3am!   


Hear from experts at the upcoming 5th Airline & Travel Payments Summit Asia-Pacific to be held in Kuala Lumpur (17-18 August, 2016).

For more, click here

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Ai Editorial: All new payment options may not pay off in travel commerce

First published on 15th June, 2016

Ai Editorial: New payment options, especially 3rd party mobile wallets are exciting. One needs to assess how all of this fits with the complex world of airline payments, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


The buzz around some of the new ways in which one can pay for a transaction is unmistakable.

What is increasingly standing out is the ease with which we can pay.

Options like Apple Pay and Android Pay let travellers check-out with a single touch. Travellers can get going by adding their preferred debit or credit cards. And this means businesses gain instant access to an extensive user base potential.

And it’s not only Apple (which continues to make progress, for instance, Apple Pay in China) and Android, even Facebook and Amazon are making news. Plus, one can’t ignore other options such as Alipay that have become dominant for targeting a particular section of audience/ market. In fact, talking of Alipay, the fact that it is a part of Alibaba group (includes Alitrip and other divisions such as big data/ cloud computing), brands need to be a part of such shopping ecosystem. It offers content/ information and shopping environment in a seamless manner. The likes of Air France-KLM and Cathay Pacific already have Direct Connect agreements in place with Alitrip. As for Alipay, supported methods include standard web, web-to-mobile, and in-app transactions.

Embracing various mobile payment options are paying off. Early movers in mobile payments are already witnessing benefits. Transavia’s mobile payment share stands at 20%, which according to Adyen, is 65% higher than the airline average. The airline has benefited as it focused on crafting a mobile-optimized experience.

Dealing with constantly evolving payments ecosystem 

There are several areas that need to be looked upon as options increase:

-       Be realistic: The travel commerce ecosystem is complex, with many moving pieces. “I think airlines will always need to be in full control of the payment ecosystem. It’s something that an airline or OTA does very well, better than these (Facebook and Amazon) networks. Some brands like PayPal make total sense and work well within space, but when it comes down to it, managing payments needs to be owned entirely by the airline or OTA. Many of the reasons why to revolve around risk, bookings, issuer relationships, travel rewards and beyond. Getting from point A to point B on the map hinges on money moving from account A to account B. As travel itineraries change, upgrades, cancellations, and delays occur there’s a delicate dance that needs to happen,” explained CardinalCommerce’s VP, Consumer Authentication, Michael Roche.  

In case of airlines, “may be you will see little to no incremental sales lift from adding an alternative payment brand. Much of the time offering another brand is going to cannibalize your current card business, so you need to make sure that it’s going to be worth it: rates, risk, and operational overhead,” asserted a source.

Referring to the likes of Facebook and Amazon, a source said, “(I doubt) if it will ever make sense to outsource the full payment functionality that airlines and OTAs have today. I also don’t think these networks will have the capacity to handle it on the levels that would be required. There’s a big difference between buying and delivering a pair of shoes vs. booking an international trip with two layovers. Being a great airline or OTA means you have an efficient payment ecosystem.”

-       Adopting new options: Airlines are going to have challenges with any new payment types that don’t pivot on the credit/ debit. “Anything that doesn’t use the authorization and settlement model will cause additional work across the travel infrastructure. Most payment networks and brands are going to present a challenge. PayPal, however, has had adoption success within the travel industry since it ties closely with the network card model,” said Roche. When considering any new payment options, you will need to do your due diligence to ensure all entities within the supply chain can handle how it operates from authorization to settlement along with all other payment functions like refunds, reauthorization, split orders, and any other type of customer service use cases that you could imagine.

Airlines need to work with their respective acquirer or PSP when identifying a new payment type. They should also discuss it with all other entities which handle bookings, customer service, or any other function where payment is tied to action throughout the travel lifecycle.

A specialist like CellPoint Mobile highlights that when it comes to supporting Android Pay, it would only require a few tweaks to their existing configuration, and passengers will have access to Android Pay in less than one week. Option like Android Pay should work seamlessly across all the e-commerce channels deployed by airlines, and one also needs to ensure how passengers’ payment, loyalty, and transaction data would be protected.

-       Keep an eye on the future: What we’re going to see in the future would be a payment ecosystem that’s more secure, confident, and accountable. The risk is going to be mitigated across the supply chain, and the online payment channels will become as trusted as the Card-Present space. Experts recommend that airlines keep their eye on these concepts in the next couple of years:

-       Wallet Mobilization of the POS

-       Strengthened and streamlined acquiring relationships

-       EMV Online

-       3-D Secure 2.0

-       Payment Tokenization

How is the world of 3rd party mobile wallets shaping up? Hear from experts at the upcoming 5th Airline & Travel Payments Summit Asia-Pacific to be held in Kuala Lumpur (17-18 August, 2016).

For more, click here

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Ai Editorial: Simplifying the world of cross-border payouts

First published, 6th May 2016

Ai Editorial: Payment options that are emerging as an end-to-end alternative to SWIFT are unsettling old-fashioned ways, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


There are several aspects that need to be scrutinized before any travel e-commerce company can work out timely cross-border payments in an extremely complex global payments environment. If coming to terms with associated total costs is one critical issue, then assessing the sort of support needed from a payment provider and spotting what payment options are suitable for receivers are some of the other equally important aspects.

If we consider the significance of a compliance program, then China is one example that exemplifies intricacies involved in the B2B payments space.

Dealing with peculiarities

For instance, it is being highlighted that due to new Chinese government regulations people in China can’ t receive online credit card payments from an international business account to their personal local bank account anymore. This will affect thousands of single business owners in China, foreigners and Chinese, travel agencies and hotel owners who use PayPal or other foreign payment processors/ providers to accept online deposit and balance payments from foreigners as they can’ t receive their foreign funds from a business account into their personal account here to pay providers, staff, etc.

“Each market presents its own set of regulatory requirements for B2B senders and receivers,” says Nagarajan Rao, SVP, Global Head of Business and Product, Transpay, a B2B/B2P cross-border payments platform.

Rao further explained, “For example, a business sending funds into a country may have only one regulated entity to choose from that can move money into that market. On the receiver side in places like China there is also the likelihood that the business has to have a mandated form to accept cross-border payments, which can be cumbersome approval process to receive. Additionally, countries like Brazil and Russia, require businesses to report every dollar of cross-border payment received. So even though it seems like the world has opened up for business transactions, some of these local regulations and requirements are impediments to business growth.”

Continuing with the example of China, many foreign businesses use Alipay or Tenpay to accept payments from Chinese travellers but what about the other way around?

Rao mentioned that these Chinese acceptance companies have done a great job in creating a strong localized payment industry.

“However when payouts need to be made to foreign entities- travel agents, hotel properties and vendors- these in-country businesses have to rely on antiquated wire system that only a few banks in China offer and pay a high amount in fees for FX. The payouts part to funds flow is the next problem for China to solve.”


As for the sort of international payment products that are available, according to Transpay, the options include:

-       eWallets (A virtual account where funds exist. No need to share private account information);

-       SWIFT Wire Transfers   

-       International Prepaid Cards (among most costliest ways to receive money);

-       International ACH (banks and 3rd party companies work out a direct deposit service. Funds are transferred to the receiver’s local bank account in local currency through the local clearing systems. Tends to be costly when used in emerging markets).

According to Rao, traditional bank wires, eWallets, and prepaid cards “too often come with hidden fees, lack of transparency and inexcusable lag times that are oftentimes bore by the recipient”. With Transpay, the funds are delivered in local currency within 1-2 days.

Traditionally, travel brands sending cross-border bank transfers have had to rely on the SWIFT wire networks. Oftentimes this means slow transactions and opaque funds flow, as funds have to go through multiple financial institutions to get to the ultimate end recipient. Each stop along this correspondent bank network also comes at high cost, as each financial institution charges a fee for handling the transaction, says Rao.

Payouts are inherently more complex than payment acceptance, as it involves one entity making mass payments to different recipients and bank accounts. With solutions that have their own proprietary bank network, travel brands are able to process payouts locally, reducing the number of financial institutions involved, and ultimately reducing the cost of sending mass payouts.

There is also talk of alternate payment solutions. So how are these offerings capitalizing on cross-border opportunity?

There are several applications for travel companies to utilize alternate payouts. Airlines, for example, need a solution for issuing refunds on cancelled flights or OTAs need a payout option for making commission payments. According to Rao, Transpay’s solutions would complement what’s being done for all outbound payments without the expense that virtual cards and traditional bank wires charge to all parties involved.

What to watch out for

According to Transpay, the focus is now on cross-border payment settlement and strategies for paying international recipients.

“Payouts are the last 100 meters of the payment flow that until recently, have been largely disregarded. It’s very glamourous to talk about the customer payment experience, but at some point businesses need to get the funds to the ultimate provider of the product. There are several trends in travel that are shifting the payment dialogue. A growing movement towards pre-payment for hotel booking for example, as well as a growth in the merchant model in the OTA sector- with more funds needing to move from the OTA to the hotel property- are all factors leading to an increased need on payouts that are economically viable,” said Rao.

Also, entities are drifting from manual and batch payout processing to an embedded user experience.

In travel, branded websites and OTAs have mastered the art of embedding local payment acceptance forms into their customer-facing user experience, said Rao. “However, when these companies need to do payouts to agents, suppliers or individual recipients that experience currently site outside of their platforms. As the industry grows and the need for faster transacting increases, streamlining the payout experience is now front and centre. Having an embedded user experience with an industry grade payment network is the next step forward for businesses to ensure that payment acceptance and payouts go hand in hand,” mentioned Rao.

Also, blockchain technology has the potential to improve the speed, accuracy and accessibility of cross-border payments.

Rao underlined that options that are emerging as an end-to-end alternative to SWIFT are unsettling old-fashioned ways. As the cross-border payouts sector moves on, solutions that are curtailing costs and managing FX gain to stand out.

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: How Amtrak ensured 3D Secure worked in its favour

First Published, 1st April 2016

Ai Editorial: Amtrak took a cautious, slow approach to 3D Secure deployment due to wide industry perception of negative customer impact. Ai’s Ritesh Gupta understands how the company eventually succeeded in its endeavour.

How can one astutely balance the benefits of 3D Secure and at the same curtail the risk of checkout abandonment?

In order to understand how Amtrak, the U. S-based passenger rail service provider with the reputation of carrying more than 30 million passengers for each of the past five years, has gone about embracing 3D Secure, we spoke to Amtrak’s Payment Security Manager, Rick Ziolkowski. He was joined by CardinalCommerce’s VP, Consumer Authentication, Michael Roche for a detailed insight into the journey and experience of handling 3D Secure.

Ai: Can you share the experience of deploying 3-D Secure? What did you discover, learn and how you ended up having a desired control over the situation?

Rick Ziolkowski: The one thing I learned to appreciate about 3D Secure is that it is unlike other payment fraud prevention solutions. Its code is embedded in the authorization message all the way through settlement. The process transits across multiple parties and servers. It’s imperative to have a vendor with deep experience in overseeing the development, troubleshooting and monitoring of the service and as an advocate between various third parties.

Michael Roche: The data elements retrieved from the authentication are sent across the networks to the Issuer. This allows Issuers to adjust their authorization risk settings and tie the authorization to the authentication. Issuers who have deployed a Risk Based Authentication (RIBA) system will challenge transactions that seem suspect. This allows them to flush out fraudsters and avoid false-positive declines. What this means is that before authorization they can identify risk. Based on the risk level they are then able to challenge the consumer with knowledge based questions or one-time pin numbers sent via SMS.

Fraud isn’t the biggest problem online. Just ask yourself, how many times has your card been stolen to make online purchases. Now, compare that to the times your card was declined incorrectly and maybe even locked while trying to buy online. The fraud problem is causing the false positive problem at astronomical levels. Merchants, Acquirers and Issuers decline far more good transactions than bad. The end to end interoperability of 3D Secure eliminates the speculation once associated with CNP commerce.

No industry is affected more by false-positives than the travel industry. High ticket items along with the high potential for fraud results in the highest false-positives averages online. Amtrak was able to lean on this new found component of the 3D Secure protocols to not only cut fraud but also increase sales. There’s a way to do this, but you need to have the right tools. You can't just go to market with a vanilla 3-D Secure MPI provider and expect it to work.

Ai: So can you talk about Amtrak’s approach?

Rick Ziolkowski: Amtrak took a cautious, slow approach to 3-D Secure deployment due to wide industry perception of negative customer impact. Unlike most fraud service solutions that focus on risk, we focused primarily on the customer impact as our deployment model.

We used the BIN behavior model from CardinalCommerce to identify those issuers who would never challenge (roughly 30% of volume). We expanded to risked based authentication issuers who rarely challenge (increasing to around 60%). The results were so compelling that we eventually phased in 100% processing after our first year.

Michael Roche: Amtrak was an early adopter of our Cardinal Consumer Authentication (CCA) Services+ system. With a phased approach we slowly introduced Cardinal Consumer Authentication (CCA) and the 3-D Secure protocols to their consumer base. Using advanced analytics we were able to hone in and the optional rule sets which would result in the best possible consumer experience, highest levels of liability shift, and the maximum net/net increase in sales. That increase in sales was a result of increased authorizations at the issuers and fewer declines within their internal risk systems.

We recently hit our goal of complete roll out.

Unfortunately even many of our travel clients are going at a much slower pace because of infrastructure problems within the legacy travel booking systems.

Rick Ziolkowski: The key to full 3D Secure optimization and effectiveness is to take advantage of the liability shift rule and to front load 3D Secure into your risk model.

Michael Roche: Correct. There are vanilla 3D Secure MPI providers out there, they promote a RIBA approach at the merchant. This means they advise their merchants only to send through high-risk traffic they flag to the 3D Secure networks. RIBA is a useful approach with issuers but an ineffective approach with merchants.

Our Cardinal Consumer Authentication (CCA) product runs on a Rules Based Authentication (Merchants) backbone where merchants only send us all their traffic to us before any fraud screening has been done. We then take each transaction and compare it to a predetermined rule set created by the merchant based on the issuer and what authentication approach being used.

There is still massive problem globally with many issuers who have not implemented the RIBA approach being pressured from the networks. Our solution eliminates these from the merchant domain. In essence, what many vanilla MPI providers are doing is only reducing the historical problems with the 3D Secure protocols to a smaller set of high-risk transactions. This is evident in their numbers as their travel merchants get less and less benefit and are sending fewer transactions to the networks.

Our merchants “front-end” load 3D Secure and use its result within their risk engines, to create superior risk assessment because we can ascertain the risk level from a RIBA issuer. This yields the highest amount of benefits minus the historical problems associated with cart abandonment that has plagued the protocols courtesy of less advanced issuers.

Ai: What would you like to highlight in terms of performance metrics with 3D Secure?  

Rick Ziolkowski: Traditional fraud prevention solutions are evaluated on a balance between fraud reduction, at the cost of customer friction (also known as the insult rate). The fraud department was in a constant battle with the sales department over finding the right balance to the company’s risk tolerance. The more that the fraud solution expanded into overall sales volume, the more that valid customer insults would typically occur.

That all changed in 2012 when the card brands provided full liability protection on fraud chargebacks for successful 3D Secure transactions. As a result, the fraud prevention rate became a known constant at 100%. This allowed us to focus solely on the customer friction area and control this tolerance level.

CardinalCommerce has developed a BIN behavior profile on how issuers react to 3D Secure transactions. They have developed several behavior ranges from “never challenge, no friction” to “new activation, high friction”. Amtrak deployed its 3D Secure service in a phased approach from lowest to highest customer friction.

A key tool to our success was the development of a fraud rule bypass when we received full 3DS authentication. Taking advantage of the full fraud liability protection, we simply ignored all legacy fraud rules. The result was a 99.85% acceptance rate, significantly better than the airline industry 96.3% acceptance rate.

And the fraud prevention results? We are now below one basis point of fraud to sales when using 3D Secure. 

Michael Roche: Essentially Amtrak outsources their fraud screening to issuers and by doing so, they get full liability shift from fraud, higher authorizations levels with that issuer, and a superior data set that allows them to reduce their friction they expose to the consumer. All of this results in eliminating the massive false-positive problem. In the US especially there are several antiquated friction-inducing fraud tools like AVS and CVV2 checks. For certain traffic, merchants remove these checks and lean on issuers to screen the transactions. Amtrak did this, and their fraud rates didn't increase, they went down even further. Far below any other travel merchant globally.

Ai: How did Amtrak chose to deploy 3D Secure differently?

Rick Ziolkowski: Front loading 3D Secure into the risk model and creating a fraud rule bypass were the two critical elements of our success. Using the BIN behavior model also allowed us to carefully manage and evaluate the program’s deployment cycle. Additionally, we developed some customized Key Performance Indicators (KPI) reporting to provide more detail into both the chargeback and the customer impact areas.

Ai: So why many merchants are not seeing a certain level of success?

Rick Ziolkowski: Merchants need to recognize that 3D Secure is unlike any other fraud prevention tool in the merchant’s arsenal. They need to fully take advantage of the 100% fraud liability shift and front load it into their overall fraud risk modeling ecosystem. There is no need to apply any additional friction to a fully authenticated 3DS transaction. The benefits realized are a low cost, streamlined and low maintenance process for merchants. Legacy rules and their costs can be greatly reduced or eliminated, adding further value to 3D Secure. Challenge units, analysts and risk model areas can have staff migrate to other areas of fraud prevention.

Merchants also need to ensure that their KPI accurately reflects only 3D Secure service results. There is opportunity for KPI results to become cross pollinated with other fraud screening tools or rules, especially if the service is only being utilized based on risk rules. We take great care to ensure that all risk rules are evaluated independently via A/B testing and detailed reporting.

Ai: How can 3D Secure be applied only to high-risk transactions, based on data customized to the airline?

Rick Ziolkowski: The traditional fraud risk management model was to apply various fraud rules and solutions from the highest risk transactions down to a level of acceptable risk tolerance versus customer friction. These would generally be applied in a waterfall/cascading design from the most effective solutions downward. The assumption being that what might have been missed by the first pass would be detected in preceding ones. At some point, you reach a point of diminishing return in which the rule has less effective and more harmful to card acceptance.  3D secure turns that traditional concept on its head.  Due to the 100% liability shift for merchants, there is no need to incorporate other fraud prevention tools or rules. Also, the expanded customer data provided to issuers during authentication makes many of these legacy tools redundant.

I want to emphasize that if a merchant is only applying 3D Secure to high risk transactions, or applying after other fraud screening tools, they will not see the full benefit of reducing customer impact. In turn, they will never achieve full optimization of 3D Secure because their legacy model will be holding it back from reducing customer friction.

Ai: It is said that 3D Secure is not a complete fraud management program. Your comments on this?

Rick Ziolkowski: Although an e-commerce merchant using a fully optimized 3D Secure will see industry leading results on both fraud reduction and card acceptance, there is still the need for robust monitoring, detection and prevention. Merchants should always look at fraud risk in a holistic, enterprise wide view. Criminals will always exploit the weakest link. Where 3D Secure protects transaction fraud and should be considered a cornerstone of any payment security program, a merchant still needs to focus on other aspects of revenue abuse such as refunds, loyalty rewards, coupons, gift certificates, etc.

Learn more about the latest developments in the arena of digital payments at the upcoming 10th Annual Airline & Travel Payments Summit, scheduled to place in Barcelona, Spain (26-27 April, 2016)

For more information, click here

Ai Editorial: One-click mobile payment – what if it fails?

First Published, 14th March 2016

Ai Editorial: When one-click mobile transaction fails to go through, it shows a brand in poor light as one is used to accomplishing tasks quite swiftly on such devices, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


A task on a mobile device at times is all about “a tap or one-time touch”. This also includes completing a mobile transaction in a jiffy. If all works well, the chances are we would indulge more in mobile shopping, as nothing can take away the impulsiveness or convenience of buying products via a mobile phone.

But this always doesn’t work out the way we desire.

UX issues

I do end up abandoning a buy or an in-app purchase when it takes too much time (blame it on the home Internet Wi-Fi connection despite having a supposedly fair download speed plan) or there is a complex issue related to acceptance of my preferred payment option.

I have been availing Uber cab hailing service. I love the Uber interface, but struggled with a recent journey. 

Till last year my credit card details were stored, but I deleted them once Uber started offering the cash option (in India). On another note, I also downloaded Paytm wallet app recently.

When I tried booking a cab via Uber last week, a message flashed, stating “balance not sufficient”. Post this I filled in my credit card details for a deposit of Rs. 1000/- or $15. I thought it would be a sort of a guarantee for my trip, in case I don’t pay cash. But even though I was instructed not to leave the app, I received a short message from my mobile operator about addition of Rs. 1000/- in my Paytm Wallet. As for the taxi that I was trying to book, I was stuck within the app environment of Uber, and eventually I decided not to book. It was quite disappointing as the fare was to last only for few minutes.

So why didn’t the payment go through? May be Paytm wallet was designated as the payment option – may be by default. But the point is the app should show me an option to pay via cash at the time of booking, as it is quite convenient. As for the amount, it started reflecting as the balance under Paytm Wallet section of Uber.

When a user is asked to share credit card details against the time limit of a certain fare or a deal/ package, one would expect the transaction to come through. Also if the card details are stored in a safe environment, still if one-click payment option doesn’t work out in the check-out phase, it again disappoints.

Non-UX related one-click payment issues

One-click payment isn’t only about streamlining the user experience (UX) or integration issues (say a travel ecommerce app with a mobile wallet).

Be it for the Asia Pacific region or Europe, there are significant regulatory, regional and technological hurdles to deal with.

If we talk of Europe, there are a set of rules and standards for the execution of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) or SEPA payment transactions that have to be followed by adhering payment service providers.

The realisation of SEPA called for a settlement on a general set of data to be exchanged in a common syntax.

As for merchants, there are several factors to be considered before they offer choice for paying to consumers. Optimizing reach and conversion, and at the same time costs of payments being kept low is of paramount importance. With the introduction of SEPA, it is being pointed out that caps on multilateral interchange fees will bring down fee for merchants.

Importantly, in order to facilitate cross-border sales and fuel the usage of one-click buy via mobile devices, specialists refer to interoperability. This would require a uniform e-identification system that can pave way for a relatively swifter exchange of information.

But the concept of cross-border remains a practical challenge, for instance in Asia.

Prasanna Veeraswamy, VP – Products at hotel booking mobile app HotelQuickly, referred to cross border payment instrument acceptance and payment while travelling as a major hurdle. Citing an example, he said, “It is so difficult to use a Singapore-based American Express card while you are travelling in Thailand, as a One Time Password (OTP) will be send to your home phone which you would not want to turn on while roaming internationally. A lot of times foreign payment instruments are not recognized locally too.”

New devices, new developments

Merchants can’t rest, and need to keep an eye on new devices.

It is clear that the evolving landscape has brought in new stakeholders into the payments ecosystem.

Veeraswamy referred to the following developments:

·          Payment using wearable devices – There are new possibilities that are shaping up, for example, chips being used in conjunction with standard NFC modems in wearables. This protects users’ sensitive data and assists in secured contactless transactions. MasterCard is already working on plans to take payments to a gamut of fitness bands, smart watches and other wearable devices. Barclaycard has also unveiled several new wearable payment devices, with each device featuring contactless payment technology and to be powered by a secure digital wallet.

·          Messaging based payments - LIINE, WeChat, Whatsapp and Snapchat.

·          OTP or one-time password kind of security moving to messaging platforms rather than SMS.

·          Cross platform wallets that will be a merger of Apple Pay and Android Pay - one wallet that works across all platforms.

As witnessed with existing payment options and devices, the readiness of devices to support one-click payments is going to hold the key. It all seems exciting, but one shouldn’t forget the significance of simplicity and security. Otherwise any promise looks like a fancy feature, and has an adverse impact on the brand.

The ideal one-click mobile payment solution should manage identification securely and instantly, support all cross-border payment methods preferred by consumers, and when a user is in the middle of a transaction there is a need to combat practical challenges to minimize the chances of abandonment.


Learn more about the latest developments in the arena of digital payments at the upcoming 10th Annual Airline & Travel Payments Summit, scheduled to place in Barcelona, Spain (26-27 April, 2016)

For more information, click here

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Gearing up for a spate of 3rd party mobile wallets

Ai Editorial: A mobile wallet is capable of addressing challenges related to the cost of payment, merchant fraud liability and the speed of checkout. Ai’s Ritesh Gupta assesses how airlines can embrace such emerging option smoothly
First Published 8th February 2016

The task of dealing with emerging payment options can’t be ignored. For instance, Apple Pay’s issuer total is already beyond 825 or so. As concerns pertaining to whether transactions via this mode are sizable enough or not get reduced, the focus is on ascertaining how to make the most of mobile wallets’  simplicity/ user experience or role in the booking funnel.

Airlines have to work out a way to handle proprietary functions and features of each of emerging mobile wallets, and this is in addition to existing multiple payment methods as well as sales channels.  

As a specialist, Denmark-based Vivek Bhatnagar, VP Presales and Solution Architecture, CellPoint Mobile points out that the primary challenge for airlines is to understand that there is no unified approach to improving or prioritizing the complex, costly and constantly changing payments ecosystem, and that challenge exists for any merchant or retailer. He says no single payments vendor can solve the complex jigsaw puzzle with a comprehensive solution.

Being ready

Whenever a new payment method like Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay launches an airline or a merchant needs to talk to their PSP or acquirer to support the same and the foresaid payment method may or may not be the immediate priority of the PSP or acquirer. However, if the airline has its own payment layer then it can connect to the PSP which supports the payment method or even connect to the acquirer that supports the payment method directly.

As a result, as Bhatnagar also asserts, it’s imperative for airlines to have a thin but feature-rich and agile payments layer within the enterprise that can talk to or integrate with best-in-class external solutions.

With that flexible framework in place, airlines can enable easy on-boarding, omni-channel payments, multiple PSP/acquirer connectivity, independently stored PSP payments, APM aggregation and improved acceptance rates.   

“Each of this features give the airline the agility that is required to increase and protect revenue in the new digital age where the battle will be fought on speed and service. For example, markets like Singapore/ China where Android is the prevalent Mobile OS, having Android Pay and omni channel responsive UI experience  will be the make or break decision with regards to the success of your mobile payment strategy,”  says Bhatnagar.

Fragmentation in mobile payments

Apple Pay, Android Pay and other alternate mobile payment methods are expected to pose a major challenge to PayPal. Even though there have been discussions around how a new entrant can enter the transaction pie that features the merchant, issuer, acquirer and the card scheme, value is being created for the consumer.

Ultimately, the mobile payments ecosystem is going to be very fragmented, and this fragmentation is a reality that airlines must embrace and support in order to provide a wider range of solutions that customers will most easily adopt.

Bhatnagar says merchants need to take control of their payment ecosystem by owning their own payments layer that can deal with the fragmentation. 

“Having a thin agile payments layer will give merchants the flexibility to tap into various sources using similar technologies like XML,” says Bhatnagar.

This provides merchants with an insulation layer from the complex dependencies of supporting different mobile operating systems and payment mechanisms from multiple external providers.

According to specialists, in practice, merchants with their own payments layer have a distinct advantage over those relying on external providers as they are able to rapidly adopt new mobile payment methods, and develop the perfect cocktail of payment methods and providers that matches the needs of their customers and the markets they operate in.

From customer experience perspective, omni-channel enablement is what can make or and break a sale. Airlines must provide seamless booking and payment experiences across all channels to match passengers’ behavior. For example, a traveller might search for a fare on a laptop at work, compare options on a smartphone on the way home, and purchase a ticket on a table at home that evening. Omni-channel enablement makes that three-stage process a smooth one.

eWallets were invariably part of retail giants, such as Alipay (Alibaba) and PayPal (eBay).

But now the space is evolving, with bank and network wallets emerging (Visa Checkout, MasterPass and ChasePay).

Bhatnagar acknowledges that VISA, MasterCard, Amex and Chase are all getting into the e-wallet space. 

He says, “The idea is to offer ease of payment and bring about  one-click payment readiness to the payment process. Businesses like VISA and MasterCard want merchants to continue to visibly use their brands in the new era of payments and are therefore aligning with e-wallets.”

Talking of Apple, Samsung and Google, these organizations are trying to step up customer ‘stickiness’ by integrating their technology into their consumers’ everyday lives. What should airlines take note of with reference to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay? And what should airlines avoid as far as these applications are concerned?

“Airlines are primarily merchants and they should  ‘endeavor to embrace’  and adopt a nimble, agile but reliable payments platform that enables a suite of solutions,” recommended Bhatnagar. 

The good news is most of the streamlining has been done by the providers themselves, an approach that eases issues with traditional payments.  “In our experience, a stored payment solution, when implemented with mobile-based APMs such as Apple Pay and Android Pay, can bring in considerable  incremental sales via the respective mobile apps,” shared Bhatnagar.

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us


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