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Shahebaz Khan, Head of Commercial and Money Movement Solutions, Visa CEMEA

August 2023


8-9 Minutes

Simple Seamless Solutions, Amplified Impact

The consumerization of commercial B2B payments is set to be transformational. Welcome to a whole new virtual world of seamless, intuitive travel and expense management solutions.

Visa is at the forefront of facilitating innovation in the B2B payments sector. Through cutting-edge technology and strategic collaborations, Visa is driving the transformation of traditional financial services into a more digital and seamless experience that rivals that of consumer models. One of Visa's significant innovations is the introduction of virtual cards in the B2B sector, which are set to streamline the payment process, enhance financial transparency, and ultimately drive growth in the global virtual cards market.

With innovation in payments having accelerated rapidly around the globe, enabled by the emergence of new technologies, the financial services industry is evolving at pace. Consequently, we are now on the vanguard of the transformation of commercial and business-to-business payments. In the wake of the consumer payments revolution that saw the emergence of seamless, low-friction, and increasingly personalized experiences, many other parts of the payments and money movement ecosystem are poised to follow suit.

To meet the demands of businesses that want an experience equal to that enjoyed by the consumer segment, fintechs are increasingly partnering with banks and banking-as-a-service (BaaS) providers to create seamless and secure digital payments experiences that cater to modern corporate needs. Indeed, as fintech continues its forward march to unleash greater capabilities within the space, more intuitive and affordable solutions – many of which offer compelling ‘plug-and-play’ attributes – are coming onto the market. These solutions are spearheading the disruption of big banks, removing layers within legacy payment value chains, and adding vital new infrastructure that promise to benefit business and employees alike.

An ongoing challenge for businesses of all shapes and sizes is having access to robust real-time insights of finances and transactions to enable a more accurate overview of actual spend. The landscape is complex; indeed, maintaining effective spend management discipline can be daunting. In the past, success has depended on considerable investment in human capital to undertake the requisite time-consuming processes; today, new payment models can offer fast and cheap processing options which, in turn, are driving adoption as businesses wise up to the myriad benefits.

Allowing organizations to gain greater visibility and control, these new payment models are unlocking fresh opportunities, shoring up business resilience and minimising operational costs. In particular, innovative digital products that serve to strip away the superfluous layers typically found in legacy payment value chains, offering interconnected, automated solutions that integrate multiple data sources and remove the barriers between various finance stacks, are emerging as the way forward.

For Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, harnessing the capability to bring face to face transactions on Virtual cards opens up new and compelling use cases. By enabling the generation of Virtual Cards, companies can automate their payables function to streamline employee-initiated expenses – a key challenge for Business-to-Business (B2B) payments. Offering a key digital solution for companies of all shapes and sizes, virtual cards use a uniquely generated card number, expiration date, and security code as a proxy to a traditional plastic card. Usage is growing rapidly, with the global virtual cards market valued at USD$ 13.31 billion in 2022, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9% from 2023 to 20301.

The use of virtual cards for travel and expense (T&E) management, which is widely considered the second-most difficult operating cost to control, is paving the way for a new and potentially lucrative playing field for payments. Often reliant on outdated and inefficient expense management processes, finance teams are hampered by having little to no control or visibility on employee spend. Added to this, these antiquated processes are prone to human error, carry increased risk of fraudulent claims, and result in employees having to wait considerable lengths of time to be reimbursed.

According to a Visa survey, in the absence of corporate cards, over 60% of employees use their personal cards and reclaim expenses from their employer, a further 34% use cash to pay for expenses and reclaim from their employer, and 15% rely on cash advances from their employer to bear the cost of business-related expenses2. All in all, managing ad-hoc spend can be a real challenge.

With decentralized employee-initiated spend models being not only difficult to predict but hard to track and manage for managers and finance teams, instantly generating a one-time use card for employees to manage day-to-day spend is a persuasive proposition. Add operational benefits of cash flow management, liability protection, and detailed data for tracking, reporting, and reconciliation to the mix, and the argument for virtual cards is clear. From the employee side, it is easier and more secure to use their mobile phone to make online and contactless purchases using virtual card solutions, which also work seamlessly with mobile wallets, contactless payments, and online ecommerce to support a company’s full suite of B2B payments needs.

Enter Visa Commercial Pay - a payment solution that works across mobile, travel, and B2B payments, reducing the need for multiple payment methods while lending a reassuring extra layer of security and clarity. Offering the added benefit of real-time reporting, the solution simplifies and streamlines business processes, improves efficiencies, and allows deep insights on business spend which, in turn, enables greater understanding of spending patterns to identify future savings opportunities. In addition, spend parameters can be defined on individual payments cards tailored to exact specifications, including duration of use, exact payment amount, and type of merchant, with automated management enabling real-time approvals and reimbursements.

On the employee side, the solution delivers the same level of convenience, speed and security that they have come to expect from the consumer payment experiences they use to navigate daily life. Instead of being laborious and time-consuming, it’s as simple as downloading the Visa Commercial Pay app and, prior to making a business-related transaction, requesting a virtual card from their team admin, which can be issued remotely. In some cases, users can also avail of a self-service option, allowing them to create cards up to a pre-approved limit from their own device. Amplifying the convenience aspect, users can also pay on-the-go with virtual cards that can be synced into their preferred digital wallet to use in-app or for contactless payments.

No need to save and submit paper receipts, fill in tiresome spreadsheets, or to wait until after returning from a business trip to be reimbursed. The process is fast, intuitive, and instantaneous – offering a single solution covering a range of on-demand business spend, wherever the employee and the company are in the world. Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the biggest game-changers. And, by applying human-centric design principles throughout the development cycle, positive results are likely to ensue; after all, regardless of products being tailored to business or consumer needs, a positive, pain-free experience is paramount.

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All brand names, logos and/or trademarks are the property of their respective owners, are used for identification purposes only, and do not necessarily imply product endorsement or affiliation with Visa.

1Virtual Cards Market Size, Share & Trend Analysis Report By Card Type (Credit Card,Debit Card), By Product Type (B2B Virtual Cards), By Application (Business Use, Consumer Use), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 – 2030. Available at: 
2Visa survey. ‘The Invisible Bank’. Visa Commercial Pay Insight report, 2019.

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