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Eye On Travel: Worldline’s Virtual Card Platform; Consumers Are Traveling More – Digital Transactions

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The big processor Worldline S.A. is working with Visa Inc. to launch a virtual business-to-business card-issuing facility for online travel agencies. The deal marks the first foray for Paris-based Worldline beyond payment processing. 

The partnership will integrate Worldline’s Merchant Services Acceptance capabilities with its Financial Services Card issuing platform to create a single platform that enables online travel agencies to improve cash flow and remove friction from B2B payments.

Online travel agencies represent 40% of the global travel market, and are projected to generate 76% of all online travel and tourism sales by 2028, according to travel-industry experts. Overall, annual travel sales are projected to reach $1.74 trillion by 2026, says research firm PhocusWright.  

“[This offering] will transform the way online travel agencies handle payments by offering a unified solution that combines payment performance and cost effectiveness,” Guillaume Tournand, vice president of growth for Worldline Merchant Services, says in a statement. “By leveraging our strong travel footprint, this initiative unlocks significant market expansion for Worldline, … driving sustainable revenue growth.” 

In related news, consumer spending on travel is growing. Some 15.9 million Americans traveled internationally during the first quarter of 2024, an all-time high, according to the Mastercard Economics Institute.

Cruises are becoming an increasingly popular form of travel again after consumer interest in them fell off during the Covid pandemic. Global cruise passenger transactions were about 16% above 2019 levels during the first quarter. For many travelers, the widening price difference between cruises and hotels has made cruises a more budget-friendly option for a getaway, Mastercard says.

In addition to traveling more, consumers are spending more on events, shows, and nightlife while traveling. Spending on experiences accounts for 12% of tourism sales, the highest percentage in five years, according to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse Destinations, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

“The resilience and adaptability of the travel sector, paired with persistent consumer demand, has translated to a strong tourism rebound,” said Michelle Meyer, chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute says in a statement. “Travelers are prioritizing experiences over goods while abroad. Yet, today’s travelers are discerning, choosing destinations that offer both value and authenticity. They are savvy enough to stretch their funds and extend their stays.”

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