Q&A: Patrick Diemer, Managing Director and Chairman, AirPlus International

Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your career in commercial payments/financial services?

A: Without a doubt, digitization and especially mobile technology have profoundly transformed commercial payments and made them much more convenient. When I started my career, I could not have imagined paying with a virtual credit card let alone my mobile phone. At the same time, the needs of our customers, business travelers and their companies, have changed as well. They want to travel with as little stress as possible, but at the same time they need clearly defined regulations on what they are allowed to do within their travel policies.

Q: What excites you the most about the future of the industry?

A: I am very excited to see how the industry will use technology to make payments become truly invisible, to abolish travel expense reports while guaranteeing security and full control. In the future, payment processes will only be mapped and processed digitally. With artificial intelligence these processes will be enhanced and adapted to the needs of our customers.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to make an impact in a mature industry like this one? Whether it’s a startup business, or someone transitioning into payments/commercial cards?

A: Corporate customers, not card issuers, determine the methods of payment. Hence, any company that wants to be successful in the payments industry needs to put the customer first. That doesn’t mean giving in to every customer demand, but truly understanding their questions, needs and challenges. Only then will you be able to create value and in the end, be successful.