The simple fact of paying for something a month after you’ve bought it can make a tremendous difference to company cashflow, according to Tony Goodwin, chief executive of Antal International, a world-wide recruitment agency with 180 staff in five Asian offices including Hong Kong and Singapore, and around U.S.$15 million annual turnover. “You improve cashflow management because you always feel that someone else is shouldering responsibility. It buys you another month, which is very important,” he says.
Antal has operated in the region for 17 years and has no problems paying with corporate cards. “They want to embrace the Western way of doing business and corporate cards fall into that category,” Mr. Goodwin adds.
For employers, the advantages of giving employees corporate cards extend beyond the issues of monitoring and cashflow. As Richard Koch, head of the card payments policy unit at U.K. Cards Association, an industry body, points out, digital systems allow companies and organisations (such as governments) to collect payments data and put it to all kinds of uses.
“There is considerable scope to collect large amounts of data and use it to arrange purchasing discounts,” says Mr. Koch. “And companies are always keen to use this data to monitor spending. They can also set limits on certain kinds of spending, or decide what suppliers their employees use.”
New technology allows people to link data from lodge cards (business travel accounts), for example, with other cards that employees hold, then aggregate the information and allow combined spends to be signed off by an employer. This saves time for both employees and employers getting approvals for spending and dealing with invoices.