Responsible for Free Money

Technology will make everything easier for business travellers. It’s a truism that we are all happy to accept. In the area of payments we have seen lots of innovation in recent years, chip-and-pin, paypal, contactless payments, applepay, etc. All making the process of paying easier. But perhaps the most popular move you could make with your travellers would be to issue them all with a centrally paid corporate card. This wondrous device, which make all things free (and would have made even King Midas happy) does have advantages:

  • Employees don’t have to dip out of pocket during a business trip. No more Junior Sales Guys effectively loaning the company money at 0% interest rate.
  • As such cards tend to be used for as much as possible, the overall view of the total spend can be very full and rich. If mined properly it can give deep insights.

But the psychology of “free” can be problematic. Employees are more likely to spend or spend right to the limit of the applicable expense policy if they don’t feel the initial sting of paying out. The ultimate convenience for the employee can have a tangible additional cost for the employer. Some good advice can help encourage the appropriate level of responsibility:

  • Make it clear to everyone that the system is monitored and reviewed. Approving managers will be asked to review, in full, random credit card statements.
  • Maverick spending will set off alerts and a process to investigate potential inappropriate behaviour or spending
  • Still ask for receipts. If people are holding a physical record of the transaction, it will remind them that such things are recorded.

If you still doubt that anyone would behave this way, feel free to search for the hashtag #companycreditcard on Twitter. People can be very creative when it comes to other people’s money.

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