The 2018 Spendsmart Year in Review report by expense management solution provider Certify reveals that businesses in North America are increasingly turning to digital services over traditional providers for everything from meals to transportation.

For the third year in a row, Uber was the most expensed brand among the more than 50 million expenses and US$3.3 billion in transactions processed across Certify’s North American customer base. The ride-hailing company secured 11 per cent of all transactions – far above the second most popular brand, Starbucks, which accounted for 4.1 per cent of purchases.

2018 marked the first year rival ride-hailing app Lyft broke the top ten, landing in sixth place with 2.8 per cent of transactions.

While Amazon rose to third place in 2018 from fourth in 2017 with 4 per cent of transactions, Delta (3.6 per cent) and American Airlines (3.4 per cent) rounded out the top six.

Certify says the reliance on digital services was even more pronounced in the final quarter of 2018, with Uber seeing 11.9 per cent of transactions and Lyft 3.4 per cent.

US-based app Seamless was the highest rated brand of 2018, earning an average of 4.8 “stars” out of a possible five, while Lyft and Uber Eats tied for second place with 4.7 stars. US carrier Jetblue tied with fast food restaurant Chick-fil-a for third place with 4.6 stars.

The latest report also highlights the growing dependence on digital ride-hailing firms. In 2015, Uber and Lyft combined accounted for less than 50 per cent of ride-hailing transactions. In 2018, the two brands handled nearly 92 per cent of ride expenses processed by Certify.

The data shows this trend could be down to businesses trying to save money, with the average traditional taxi ride costing nearly $9 more per ride than Lyft and almost $7.50 higher than Uber. Meanwhile, the average rating for taxis was four stars compared to 4.5 for Uber and 4.7 for Lyft.

Meals proved to be the most-expensed category for businesses again in 2018, accounting for 17.2 per cent of all transactions. Certify says meals have seen the most expenses processed since the Spendsmart report was first launched in 2013.

But even in this category, digital brands are fast becoming the most popular option for businesses travellers who want to have meals delivered to their hotel or office. Food delivery transactions grew 118 per cent from 2017 to 2018.

Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify, commented: “Enterprise-wide adoption of sharing economy services – due to convenience, efficiency and price – are key drivers for this shift. The sharing economy vendors have rapidly adopted offerings to target the business traveller and have made it even easier to consume their services across large and enterprise organisations.”

Subscribe to the BBT Newsletter

Join the Buying Business Travel newsletter for the latest business travel news.

Thank you for signing up!