More than three-quarters of airlines (76%) now believe that virtual payments benefit both travel providers and sellers, according to a new report from Amadeus, the travel technology company. Amadeus’ transaction data shows 98.3% of virtual card payments are now accepted by airlines. The pressures of the pandemic are accelerating B2B payments transformation in travel, according to the study, which surveyed respondents from airlines, hotels and travel agencies and was undertaken by market research firm Coleman Parkes on behalf of Amadeus. According to the report, the way travel agencies pay suppliers was evolving before the pandemic, as traditional industry settlement schemes and legacy plastic cards were gradually replaced by modern digital payment methods. Virtual cards that reduce manual processes, prevent fraud and improve settlement times were slowly gaining ground. Now, new data suggests the urgent need to improve cash flow across the industry is helping to overcome barriers to the adoption of virtual cards, rapidly increasing take-up. In fact, 74% of airlines cited cash flow improvement gained from shorter settlement cycles as the top benefit for accepting virtual cards. Damian Alonso, head of payer services for Amadeus, said that as the pressures of the pandemic continue, the travel industry is accelerating the switch to digital B2B payments This means that agents don’t need to lock up funds as a guarantee in traditional industry settlement schemes, and providers get paid in near real-time, securing vital cash flow. He added that some merchants historically questioned the acceptance of virtual cards due to a perception of higher costs “but those days are coming to an end as the pandemic has highlighted the tangible efficiency gains of being paid digitally.”