Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Travel Technology

Mastercard to Invest in Fintech Company Conferma Pay

2 months ago

Mastercard is planning to make a minority investment in Conferma Pay, a fintech company acquired earlier this year by Sabre Corporation.

The new partnership with Mastercard will allow Conferma Pay to expand the use of virtual cards for business-to-business travel payments.

Sabre acquired Conferma Pay for $72.5 million in August 2022, according to a filing in September with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

UK-based Conferma Pay provides software and commercial deals to help the travel industry move to virtual cards, through which account information is issued for one-time use in an effort to shield the buyer’s identity when making online purchases and prevent fraud. Virtual cards also allow travel buyers and suppliers to more easily track and reconcile payments. 

(Skift has covered this in its recent megatrend Travel Payments Find Path to Painless.)

Conferma Pay said it connects issuers to more than 700 travel management companies, all the major global distribution systems, and more than 100 online booking tools. The company said it is fully integrated with all the major card brands and works with more than 50 banking partners, allowing them to issue virtual cards in nearly 100 currencies.

Conferma Pay will continue to operate independently. Sabre’s Virtual Payments platform integrates the Conferma Pay services. 

“The payments industry is in the midst of a revolution and there is an increased need for travel companies to better manage the whole payment experience,” said Roshan Mendis, chief commercial officer for Sabre Travel Solutions, in a statement. “Companies in the travel space — including travel management companies, travel agencies, corporations, issuers, and technology partners — need sophisticated solutions and seamless connections. Sabre is taking strategic steps to fulfill the needs of our industry, beginning with the acquisition of Conferma Pay.”

Online Travel

Booking.com to Test Guest ID Verification and Payment Alternatives for Foreign Purchases

3 months ago

Booking Holdings is hiring rapidly at its new engineering office in Bengaluru, India, to work on new projects such as how to verify guest identification with machine learning and new products such as alternative forms of international payment to traditional credit and debit cards.

The parent company of Booking.com has about 20 employees at its tech center now but expects to ramp that up to about 100 by year-end, according to The Times of India. The business unit will work on how to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to better manage risks and hassles in travel transactions.

The company wants to verify IDs such as passports and driving licenses by linking the company to sources of identification data and using artificial intelligence and machine learning to scan these and verify identities automatically.

That is one of the projects that the Bengaluru office will tackle, Daniel Marovitz, senior vice president of fintech at Booking.com, told The Times of India.

The team will also look at possibly building a “foreign exchange card” as an alternative form of payment to a traditional credit or debit card. Today, many credit and debit cards charge a different, higher foreign exchange rate than the lowest available on the market.

The planned Booking.com product would attempt to offer a cheaper alternative. The ambition is for customers to use the card, which will come in physical and digital forms, for routine purchases and not just for booking a hotel. It may eventually enable customers to take advantage of buy-now-pay-later and other insurance-like products that Booking Holdings might operate on its own as a financial technology player.

Both projects fit with Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel‘s vision for “a connected trip” that he laid out at Skift Global Forum in September (see video).

The news of the product testing and development dovetails with recent Skift Megatrends about the financialization of travel and how the rise of global mobile wallets are upending travel payments.

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