SA businesses still fear the corporate card

There are still a lot of trust issues when it comes to corporate cards, which leaves most SA travellers paying out of their own pockets for travel expenses, says Monique Swart, founder of the African Business Travel Association (ABTA).

Ian Hendry, Nedbank commercial card product manager, agrees and says issues of trust and fear of abuse remain obstacles to the adoption of corporate cards locally.

“Internationally, corporate cards are successfully used to control spend such as hotel costs, restaurant meals, car rental, airport parking and incidental spend,” says Hendry. Despite this, he says, South African companies using corporate cards and an expense management solution are “few and far between”.

The more common approach locally is for companies to use a central lodged card at their preferred TMC for payment of airline, car rental and hotel accommodation in the form of a bill-back. For restaurant and incidental expenses, companies rely on the business traveller paying for these expenses and following the claim process, says Hendry.

But, it seems that this distrust is entirely unfounded, as corporate cards can actually help businesses get a better handle on their spend.

“With a corporate card, companies can place spending and supplier limits on cardholders, while also keeping tabs on expenditure and reconciling travel spend much more easily. Corporate cards can also provide much-needed real-time visibility of expenditure allowing companies to increase their spend controls.”

Reducing fraud

One of the main benefits of opting for corporate cards for travel expenses is that it can help reduce internal fraud. “Also, by capturing transactions online, companies can draw better supplier data and proactively negotiate better supplier deals,” says Hendry.

“They can improve and streamline their expense management processes by linking the card to their traveller expense management system. They can enjoy lower payment costs and improve traveller compliance by saving them time when they submit their expenses. It’s even easier when there’s an emergency and travel has to happen on the fly. The real control, however, happens after the spend has taken place, as you’re able to flag abnormal transactions quickly and easily, and analyse spend data to influence your travel expenses policy, travel behaviour and compliance.”

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