Pilots have to pay for gas and let air traffic controllers know when they need it, but a mobile payment app can help them do that while eliminating paperwork and managing other tasks common with flying corporate, private or charter planes.
U.S. Bank has launched MSA Pay, a payment app to help those types of pilots manage transactions and other flight management needs.
One of the big benefits of mobile technology is its ability to tailor services for distinct users, such as corporate pilots, according to U.S. Bank's Dominic Venturo.
"The mobile banking app allows us to develop special solutions where it makes sense," said Venturo, the executive vice president and chief innovation officer at U.S. Bank, adding that can also include special services for cobranded retail payment cards, treasury or cash management.
MS Pay, which is available for iOS, with Google availability expected in early 2016, builds off of the U.S. Bank Multi Service Aviation Card, which runs on a closed loop multi service aviation network that operates globally. Services include fuel contracts, managing monthly aviation expenses and invoice payments from any location.
U.S. Bank has also been adding lots of mobile services recently for both consumers and businesses. In some cases, the bank is pushing existing technology to meet higher mobile adoption; and in others it's repurposing business payment technology for consumer use. The bank is also developing uses for wearable computing, digital watermarks and voice recognition.
"In the case of aviation, it's taking an extension of all that we learned to address the needs of this market," Venturo said.
The airline industry has become a major venue for mobile-driven payments automation, given the synergy between payments and airport navigation for consumers. It's easy, for example, to pair mobile payments with a mobile boarding pass.
The popularity of mobile boarding passes means people are already using their phones while in the airport. The ancillary use cases can range from retail payments inside airports to payments for mass transit that connects airports to nearby business districts.
MSA Pay serves a different part of the airline industry—focusing more on corporate jets than commercial travel. The app is designed to automate receipt and invoice tracking, and automate other travel tasks. Pilots use MSA to notify a fixed base operator (FBO—the airport's flight management operation) of arrival details, special needs and service requests prior to landing.
The FBO performs these tasks, notifies the pilot when the plane is ready and sends an invoice to the pilot. Once the pilot approves the invoice, the app emails a copy of the invoice to the pilot and to the pilot's back office for final processing.
It's common for FBOs to be web enabled, even at the smaller airports that often handle private plans for corporate travel, said Tami Richards, vice president of Aviation Product Solutions at U.S. Bank, adding that makes it possible to link the mobile payments app to fueling and other airport services.
"Handling all of the paperwork can be tough for pilots," Richards said. "We believe this will ease some of those pain points that pilots face when flying. If there are fewer papers or invoices to keep track of, the better."