Advancements in consumer mobile payments are setting the stage for similar changes to corporate employee payments, such as travel purchases and other expenses.
"It's a natural extension of the change in human behavior," said Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer at U.S. Bank, which is releasing a number of mobile features for corporate travel and purchasing.
The general familiarity employees have with mobile in their personal lives makes for less of an adjustment when using the technology for work expenses, Venturo said. This trend also benefits developers and issuers, he said.
"Some of the work that we have done on the retail side will bleed into the corporate side," including the bank's approach to risk, Venturo said.
Banks are largely overlooking the opportunity to generate more fee income by adding technology and mobility for corporate, travel and entertainment, said Stessa Cohen, a research director at Gartner. "I haven't heard too much about [mobile pay for employees] happening. It's the less sexy side of banking, but here is where you can start to really generate revenue from digital banking," she said.
Mobile payments can remove friction for corporate travel and procurement, improving the user experience and aiding on the management side, Cohen said. "Businesses can get an easier view into cash flow and how travel and entertainment impacts the budget."
U.S. Bank is gradually bringing features of its Access Online data management and reporting tool to a mobile app called Access Online Mobile. Business employees can use the app to view account summary information and payment due dates. Fraud, transaction and security alerts will be added shortly, as well as electronic receipt attachment and mobile payments for single-use corporate accounts.
Different types of corporate payment data and functions can be available in the same location, saving navigation for people who normally use different travel cards, Venturo said. Many companies choose to distribute separate cards as part of how they organize procurement and travel & entertainment risk, he said.
U.S. Bank is also developing a provisioning function for corporate employee cards, Venturo said. "We can leverage the technology in the consumer app where we could push a new card out in real time for an employee that didn't have one," Venturo said.
The move to mobile follows a number of other initiatives at U.S. Bank to add technology to business payments. Late last year, U.S. Bank launched TravelVirtualPay, which provides a one-time-use virtual account number for each purchase. This payment method is designed to replace the centralized lodge cards that businesses use to manage travel payment. Single-use accounts can give corporate clients a way to manage waste in corporate spending by viewing a larger set of payments information that can be retrieved and organized quickly.
The bank has also made moves on the business-to-business side, including deployment of a payment application that allows clients to integrate enterprise resource planning software from SAP with the bank's payment origination service. SAP's Consolidated Payables Link for U.S. Bank is designed to process business payments faster and in more consistent manner for companies using different payment types. More recently, U.S. Bank on Oct. 28 updated the Access Online platform to simplify the number of fields required for business-to-business payment instructions.