Stable growth despite tough market // International focus brings growth // Market for payment solutions in a state of flux
AirPlus International, a leading global provider of payment and billing solutions for business travel, last year came out on top against a weak business travel market worldwide: In fiscal year 2015, the company achieved a total invoicing volume with its credit cards of around 13.8 billion Euro in comparison to the previous year (2014: 12.7 billion Euro), which means an increase of 8.7 percent. Revenues rose around 2.8 percent in 2015 to 329 million Euro. Earnings before interest and taxes for the year amounted to 51.7 million Euro, in the previous year it was 46.3 million Euro. That corresponds to a growth of 11.7 percent.
“AirPlus prevailed in a tough market with very good results,” said Patrick W. Diemer, Chairman of the AirPlus Board. “The demand for professional payment solutions for business travel is unabated: In 2015, we were able to acquire more than 3,000 new corporate clients worldwide. That is treble the number of new clients in the previous year.” The markets with the highest revenues remain Germany, France and Italy. In the past business year, China climbed to become the fourth-largest AirPlus market.
As for growth, China has occupied first place for five years in a row. Mexico, Australia and Great Britain follow China as the fastest-growing markets. This success confirms the AirPlus strategy of continuously tapping into new markets: The company was able to increase its international business travel revenues by 15 percent in 2015. In years to come, AirPlus will continue focusing on the international expansion of its product range, placing particular emphasis on the markets in the Asia-Pacific region. “We hope to quadruple our revenues in that region by 2020,” said Diemer.
New environment calls for new ideas
The market for payment solutions is currently in a state of flux: New technologies and market players make the competitive environment for Germany’s leading provider of corporate credit cards even tougher. In strategic product development, AirPlus focuses on the virtual and mobile aspects of its corporate cards. “Development now is strongly driven by new digital payment solutions for private use, that affects the expectations of business travelers,” said Patrick W. Diemer. “Companies need to react here, since digital payment solutions provide benefits for both travelers and travel managers. We enable our clients to successfully integrate digital payment into their business travel processes. To implement that, we are willing to serve as an experienced partner for new payment providers.”
The impact of the EU regulation of interchange fees for credit cards will continue to concern AirPlus in 2016. AirPlus adapted its product range to the requirements at the end of 2015. “We had to react to the provisions from Brussels,” said Patrick W. Diemer, “since the reduction of the interchange fees for our previous model of the AirPlus Corporate Card seriously threatened our income.” Corporate cards are only exempted from the regulation if certain conditions regarding the contractual relationship and billing are met. “Our corporate card models with company billing and liability fulfill these requirements,” explained Diemer, “and with the new Travel Expense Card we will simultaneously provide a solution that is classified as a consumer card and is thus regulated. It has all the benefits of a corporate credit card but is billed to the private account of the traveler. We developed a new price model for this. Our clients can choose the AirPlus solution that most effectively supports their individual processes in business travel management.”
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