In the wake of Covid-19, airlines are aiming to increase cash flows and generate ancillary and additional revenue while also striving to reduce costs and ensure safety.

    [This feature first appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Low Cost & Regional Airline Business, which you can read in full here.]

    Airline IT solutions provider Hexaware, which serves more than 100 airlines and some of the world’s busiest airports, has vast industry experience. The company’s software solutions cover reservations, ticketing, fares, revenue management and revenue accounting, among other areas. 

    Low-Cost & Regional Airline Business reached out to the company to find out about the latest trends in the digital payment solutions market and to learn how carriers can maximise their revenue and cash flows while also ensuring cost-efficiency and meeting safety requirements.

    Strategic decisions

    Hexaware works closely with a number of leading airlines as a development, system integration and digital assurance partner. This involves handling online and batch, complete and partial payments via payment engines whilst also handling reservation flows for flight bookings, upselling, voiding and refunds via multiple sales channels such as mobile apps, in-apps and airport desks. 

    The company specialises in integrations with multiple global and regional payment gateways using payment APIs, ESBs & XML Direct. Hexaware provides payment tokenisation and housekeeping services to secure credit card details and personal data, ensuring PCI compliance of the platform. According to the company spokesperson, the IT solutions provider has established credibility in implementing 3DS1 & 3DS2 payment authentications and payment authorisation of various forms of payments such as credit cards, debit cards, UATP, wallet and Messenger payments and is also involved in testing API integration and the entire airline payments flow.

    Giving insight into market demand and the company’s recent engagements, the spokesperson explains that these include an airline website integration with blockchain and smart ledger-based payment processing for business and corporate accounts using Metasearch platforms, as well as NDC platform-related payment initiations and integrations with other partners. The company has also integrated airlines’ main dotcom websites with multiple third-party merchandising platforms to increase ancillary revenues.

    Diversified choices

    Hexaware’s spokesperson explains that meeting the multiple key targets in demand – increasing cash flow, ensuring safety, gaining ancillary and additional revenue and reducing costs – involves leveraging payments as a strategic enabler for post-Covid-19 recovery through digitisation. 

    One of the key priorities to make this happen is ensuring digital-first and touchless travel to reassure customers. This can be achieved through several measures, including implementing the latest payment technologies, propelling payment platform modernisation and providing customer centricity, improving cost-effectiveness, resilience, reliability, uptime and productivity. Promoting automation, bringing convenience and ease of use, efficiency, and agility reduce the time required for payments and to check out customers.

    Offering more diversified payment choices and alternate form of payments, implementing new payment features and addressing customer expectations to handle multiple channels, markets and suppliers will also contribute to these targets, as do offering greater payment flexibility and faster compliance to dynamic regulatory requirements. Furthermore, real-time payment systems help to gain control of vital cash flows and reduce risk of defaults and losses linked to exchange rate fluctuations.

    digital payment

    Understanding market challenges 

    When it comes to current trends regarding digital payment systems for airlines, the spokesperson explains that these include choices for increased flexibility such as “buy now, pay later” or “hold my fare”, subscription options for preferential prices and additional services such as commuter flight passes, escrow account features, virtual cards and vouchers, as well as selling loyalty miles.

    Reducing payment processing costs is of course also a consideration. Regarding technology trends, there are several areas of focus such as investment in digital and cloud technologies to mitigate fraud and enable data-driven offerings for value-added propositions. Accelerated adoption of contactless payments includes using biometric features such as facial recognition for quicker and secure payment approval, ‘tap and go’ payments using NFC & EMV, cloud payments, conversation AI chatbots, smart speaker-based voice-activated payments and smartwatches and wearables payments.

    According to the spokesperson, other key adoptions in the current market include blockchain/distributed ledger technologies and accepting digital and cryptocurrencies for cross border payments and settlements as well as federated identity management. 

    “For airlines and travel companies, having a sound partner like Hexaware with domain expertise, technology capabilities and understanding of the unique market challenges to support them in their payment journey will be crucial to emerge as a leading digital enterprise,” the spokesperson sums up.