Booking Holdings’ New Fintech Unit Aims To Help Travelers Beat Banks At Their Own Game – Skift

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Booking Holdings’ new Fintech unit is working on ways to enable travelers to avoid bank and credit card company exchange fees.

While the main goal of Booking’s FinTech division, announced several days ago, is to “speed up” bookings, allowing travelers to pay when and how they want in their preferred currencies, another goal is to develop new sources of income, said Daniel Marovitz, head of FinTech. and senior vice president, in an interview with Skift on Friday.

The goal is to offer travelers “a great exchange rate, which is perhaps better than what they would get from their credit card or bank, but do it on a scale that we can earn. money on the exchange “, Marovitz. mentionned.

For example, this would apply to travelers from the United States who find that all their hotels booked in Europe are billed in euros. This could also be the case for the German traveler taking a New Zealand vacation.

The company wants to offer “bookers a bargain price and take the anxiety out of traditionally opening your credit card bill at the end of the trip, without knowing all the fees and bad exchange rates you’re going with.” get stung, ”he said.

Marovitz said this type of work is underway at various stages within Booking Holdings, which includes Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, OpenTable and Kayak, while some elements are being piloted.

“We’ve had pieces of what we’ve been doing for a while,” he said. “There are some things being experimented with, so we have a lot of currency work going on,” including buying now and paying later, and the ability to pay for trips in installments.

“So these are things that are all in pilot mode in Booking today,” Marovitz added.

Booking.com, the parent company’s largest brand, began a transition to adding prepaid hotel reservations to his salary at the hotel foundation about five years ago. Marovitz said Booking has created a new payment system from the ground up in an effort to simplify the complexity of travel payments, both for travelers and partners.

Despite the fact that Covid-ravaged travelers in 2020 and 2021 are still looking for the flexibility offered by hotel payment instead of prepayment, Booking CFO David Goulden said in May “we still believe the Total market activity in 2021 will be a slightly higher mix than it was in 2020. ”

While Booking has been working on alternative payment systems for at least five years, its new Fintech unit, which will negotiate on certain tax and purchasing issues for brands, now has its own income statement and funding, with Marovitz reporting to the CEO. of the group. Glenn Fogel.

The FinTech unit, with more than 400 employees based in Amsterdam and Shanghai, plans to add more than 10% to its workforce in 2021. Only around 7-8% are based in China, which has pioneered payment systems. alternatives such as WeChat Pay and Aliplay.

When asked if Booking Holdings felt worried about operating in China, where the government has clamped down on tech companies in travel and beyond, Marovitz said the company is “very aware of the complexities of the [its] orientation towards technology companies, and we are still assessing the situation.

Marovitz said the Fintech unit will likely carry out pilot projects with partners to allow travelers to pay in cryptocurrency, but he’s not particularly excited about the prospect because currencies are so volatile and not many people use it yet. crypto to buy things.

He said “we will be led by the market”, and there is no reason to be ahead of him.

The FinTech revolution

Booking’s creation of its Fintech unit comes as fintech has become one of the next big things in travel.

Traveloka in Indonesia switched to financial services at the start of the pandemic when travel all but ceased and has plans for expansion.

AirAsia Digital has acquired the operations of the Gojek superapplication in Thailand, including its payment services, to enhance AirAsia Digital’s Big Pay unit. Big Pay recently applied for a digital banking license in Malaysia with the aim of providing individuals and small businesses with an array of financial services, the company said.

AirAsia hopes the Gojek deal will allow it to better compete with the leader in ridesharing, delivery and financial services Grab in Southeast Asia.

“If we get the license, we will be able to reach more Malaysians with a wider range of services – all with the aim of building a stronger Malaysia,” BigPay founder and CEO Salim Dhanani said in a statement.


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