Some would say the fintech industry has been experiencing its prime in the past few years. As of the first half of 2019, the fintech market share across 48 unicorns was worth over US$187 billion. Two-thirds of bank executives worldwide believe that fintech companies will significantly impact wallets and mobile payments globally. It is hard to argue with such numbers. Moreover, a relatively high adoption rate among the population thanks to a streamlined consumer experience (which is not usually how one would describe traditional banking) points to a hardly arguable conclusion – fintech is here to stay and strive.
In a globally connected economy such as ours, this, in turn, means that pretty much all the industries are or will get affected by the changes – and hospitality is not an exception. The pandemic has further promoted a switch towards contactless payments, which gave rise to a wealth of e-wallets, such as Apple Pay, Alipay, Twint, or M-Pesa to name a few. This consequently forced properties to rapidly get on board with the adoption of frictionless payments and other connected apps for contactless check-in.
Nevertheless, challenges lie ahead as well. The existing hotel management systems face a unique set of issues, especially when it comes to the booking process: global acceptance of various wallets, client no-shows despite a reservation, mistakes with credit card information (5% of transactions), fraudulent claims from the guests, etc. Now it looks like the fintech players have started paying attention to these obstacles and designing an acceptable solution.
An example would be Ecommpay, a payment service provider working together with Accor Hotels. They provide a platform where the customer has her credit card data registered and verified for future use. Each transaction is then approved using the 3D payment security system. The catch is the system’s ubiquity, so the guest can make a reservation from any part of the world and be greeted with the same familiar procedure. Moreover, at checkout, the client gets a summary of her consumption and then can pay directly in a paperless manner. For the reception, it is a virtual terminal. For the booking desk, it is proof of an existing transaction even if the client does not show up.
Presently, the cost of such solutions is unsustainably high for independent hotels. This ought not to be a problem, though. As with any disruptive technology, such innovations first must be tested and debugged, so perhaps, it is a good idea to let the industry giants play with them first and clear the way for smaller properties. The same is true, for example, for blockchain technology – despite its potentially exciting features, secure, and less volatile nature, it currently lacks feasible applications in the hospitality sector. Hopefully, as the global economy is gradually becoming leaner and more decentralized, cutting-edge solutions will reach the travel industry as well.