Few industries have been impacted by the pandemic as much as the airline sector, with it now facing the tricky task of navigating into the ‘new normal’. 

CellPoint Digital specialises in payments within the airline sector, holding partnerships with a host of companies and placing a heightened focus on maximising engagement from travellers. 

Speaking to Payment Expert, the firm’s CEO Kristian Gjerding detailed some of the key challenges that he believes will await the airline industry as we look beyond the pandemic. 

“We are talking payments now and I think airlines and travel agents are looking at optimising a lot and I think we are looking at a new reality now, but I will say that airlines were looking at a new reality following the tragic events of 9/11, when the horrible events changed the travel industry forever. 

“But I think the travel industry coped and it will cope with this as well, there will be casualties people are losing their jobs and livelihoods, I believe the industry will find a way forward, so payments are one part they will need to look at, whilst they’re reviewing their infrastructure requirements and how they can optimise and simplify. 

“We are seeing that non-core functions are being outsourced to partners like us and I think that’s very important. There is an efficiency in getting things done faster and less expensively, but there is also a huge opportunity in adapting technology which has been around for a long time into a more modern reality where speed to market is going to be essential. 

“We are also meeting travellers where they want to be met – an interesting component, specifically around payments, was that one of our clients revealed that Apple Pay was picking up faster than any other method and that was by a significant magnitude. What that says and it plays into all the conversations going on is that people want to go contactless. 

“The point is that for airlines revisiting where they are going with their payment strategy, not only in terms of efficiency and more cost-effective efficiency but also to meet their travellers with capabilities that simplify the transaction journey.”

As speed to market takes on a deepened importance and firms are forced to adjust rapidly to new regulations and desires of consumers, Gjerding was keen to underline that he doesn’t believe there are extra risks involved with new tech. 

He stated: “There’s an inherent risk with anything IT, but that’s another conversation and it has nothing to do with speed to market. What’s happening here though, if you look at the payment ecosystem from ten years ago, it was pretty much cards, there were a

 few countries like Africa that were way ahead with alternative forms of payments, but in the last ten years a lot has happened and the technologies in themselves are robust. 

“So whilst the complexity of the payment ecosystem has changed dramatically, the technology to cope with it has also derived. Therefore, I think by partnering with the right companies, you are going to take some of the complexities out of this and reduce the risk.” 

He continued by emphasising the key role of fintechs in improving the customer journey for many travellers, predicting that playing into the contactless offering could be pivotal. 

“Fintech is one part of a lot of different things that the airlines are doing to cope with this right now, but where fintech plays a role is the entire flow of transactions in the value chain of the travel experience for a traveller. 

“If we can simplify that and just look at getting some of the issues resolved, specifically where tender is transferred from one point to another, playing into the cashless journey is going to be significant and will be very valuable to the traveller in terms of minimising contact and exposure but also a simplified reality. 

“If you look at the back office for an airline is working and think about a back office for an airline is working and how that interacts with a range of different third party systems to accommodate payments and whatnot, I think this is where fintech can help simplify that journey.”