Money & Business

Survey: Digital Wallets Make Inroads Among Business Travelers

By / Jul 24, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Tools like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are still in their infancy, but digital wallet technology is becoming a popular wish-list item for business travelers, according to a new Global Business Travel Association survey.

Adoption of digital wallets is still lagging behind expectations since the launch of Apple Pay nearly a year ago, but that hasn’t stopped the technology from being a hit among business travelers. According to a new Global Business Travel Association and American Express survey, the mobile wallet option is becoming a popular wish-list item—outside of the United States at least.

The GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index report found that 22 percent of the more than 3,800 business travelers surveyed said they were likely to use a mobile, cashless wallet. Broken down by country, 36 percent of Mexican and Brazilian business travelers said they’d prefer to use the technology compared to just 17 percent from the U.S.

GBTA chart mobile walletsClick to enlarge (via GBTA)

The U.S. figure is reflective of recent reports on Apple Pay adoption. One report found that 79 percent of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users have yet to use the technology, which allows consumers to store their credit card information in Apple’s Passbook app and make payments directly from their iPhone. Another survey [PDF] found that 25 percent of smartphone users—those with iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and Windows Phones—were at least somewhat likely to make mobile payment purchases in the next 90 days.

So why is interest in the technology among business travelers from other countries spiking?

Joseph Bates, a GBTA spokesman, said it could be because mobile wallets provide a solution to a specific problem those travelers are facing.

“Although we did not specifically ask why business travelers are interested in the cashless wallet, I think it may be due, in part, to the fact that payment options are much more limited in Mexico and Brazil than in the U.S.,” he said in an interview with the website Skift. “Therefore, the business travelers in Mexico and Brazil are much more interested in the cashless wallet as it solves for a challenge they experience more than U.S. business travelers do.”

GBTA survey respondents also agreed that having access to WiFi is vital to work productivity while traveling (78 percent), mobile apps can enhance the overall business travel experience (55 percent), and social networking sites improve their ability to network while on the road (43 percent).

“A massive technological transformation is changing the face of business travel,” Bates said in a press release. “This transformation will only accelerate, and business travelers will demand always-on connectivity and mobile applications that allow them to stay in touch 24/7.”

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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