Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why virtual corporate cards are essential in an era of hybrid working

By Marc Pettican, President, Barclaycard Payments

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the working patterns of millions across Britain for the long term. Hybrid working is the new buzzword as employers rush to adapt and embrace more flexible practices (and the cost savings that can come with them).  

In turn, the need for improved digital solutions to match this new way of working has intensified. One challenge that many businesses face is how to keep track of employee spending whilst working remotely. 

Traditionally, companies’ expenses processes have been manual and time-intensive. Employees have been expected to fill out expenses by hand and submit them in person to the accounts team in the office. This often also involves them making payments from their own cards before being reimbursed. The process creates unnecessary friction between an employer and an employee, as people are expected to be out-of-pocket for periods of time.

While many organisations have progressed to offering company cards for their employees, the system still often relies on a manual process for filing and paying back the expenses. The pandemic has rendered expenses processed on paper unfeasible and, as a result, many businesses have been forced to rethink and streamline their approach to employee spending.

A move to online platforms is important not only because it saves time and ensures that employees are not out of pocket, but also because it gives control back to the employer. Companies can implement systems that allow them to approve spending requests before purchases are made, helping them to manage day-to-day expenses in a more efficient way. 

To help workforces continue to operate smoothly during an era of remote working, Barclaycard Payments’ Precisionpay Go allows companies to issue virtual cards to employees for each individual business payment online.

Systems such as these offer numerous advantages to employers and employees, such as: 

  1. Increased control over outgoings: Instead of issuing a physical corporate card to everyone in the company, online platforms allow employers to deploy a different virtual card for each payment made, or a group of payments for a specific trip – ideal for those working from home. 
  2. Increased visibility of business payments: Traditionally, businesses don’t have a view of company spending until after the expenses have been submitted. By implementing virtual cards, they have visibility even before a payment is made.
  3. Time savings and increased efficiency: On average, it takes eight days to deliver a physical card to an employee – possibly even longer with staff working from home. A virtual card can be issued to an employee’s phone within just two seconds from being requested.
  4. Valuable data capture: Platforms such as Precisionpay Go allow businesses to add custom data fields to be populated by the employee each time a card is requested. Users can also upload receipts via a mobile app, which can be viewed alongside transactional information in the accompanying reporting platform, SNAP.
  5. Reduced environmental impact: By implementing virtual cards and digital processes, companies are able to reduce plastic and paper usage that come with physical cards and receipts.

The pandemic has digitised so many parts of our professional and personal lives – from how communicate to how we shop, exercise and work. It’s time for corporate expenses systems to follow suit.