Nearly 70 per cent of travel buyers say their travellers have been affected by a payment-related data breach from an outside vendor such as an airline, hotel or retailer in the past year, according to research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in partnership with AirPlus International.

The survey of 144 US travel buyers also revealed that they believe the risk of fraud is growing, with two-thirds (68 per cent) saying travel programmes face a greater threat today than they did two or three years ago.

According to the GBTA, nearly half of all travel departments are engaged with various payment security functions. Most are involved in responding to payment fraud by an external party, educating travellers about payment security and setting policies related to fraud prevention. The survey revealed that involvement does not vary much by travel spend or programme reach (such as national versus global).

Seventy-nine per cent of those polled view single-use virtual card numbers as effective at preventing fraud, yet only a fifth of travel programmes (20 per cent) reported current usage of this payment method.

Similarly, most believe that payment controls can prevent fraud and misuse, but many never or rarely use them. Such controls include limiting the amount allotted in a single transaction, restricting payment within a certain country and setting daily or weekly spending limits. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents never or rarely limit the amount allowed in a single transaction despite having access to technology that would enable this.

Michael W McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO, commented: “This research highlights a significant contrast between what travel buyers are saying versus what buyers are actually doing. However, it is encouraging to see an uptick in the usage of virtual cards, which can be an effective weapon against fraud.”

Diane Laschet, president and CEO of AirPlus International, added: “We have seen the need to educate around virtual card benefits not just to travel managers but to corporate finance and procurement departments as well. This method of payment has the strongest level of security controls available on a payment tool, which is critical in the age of data breaches. When you couple that with the comprehensive data associated with each transaction, it is easy to see why this is the future of business travel payment. The benefits really touch across all areas of the company, from the back office to the traveller.”;

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