Abta is to replace its long-standing Single Payment Scheme (SPS) in the coming weeks with a system which allows more frequent payments.
The association’s new system is being developed by technology company Travel Ledger and will launch later this summer, replacing the legacy system which has existed for around 20 years.
The legacy direct debit system was switched off temporarily last March as it struggled to cope with the volume of refunds being issued due to the pandemic.
Travel Ledger’s new system has been trialled by Abta member focus groups over the last few months and adjusted based on feedback.
SPS is a direct debit scheme that allows online payments between travel agents and tour operators. Payments are currently consolidated each week to create a single payment in or out of the member’s bank account. Members used SPS to settle more than 600,000 bookings in 2019 to the value of more than £900 million.
The new Travel Ledger scheme will mean Abta members can control not only who they transact with but also facilitate the deposit and balance payments from agents to operators and refunds from operators to agents.
In time, members who join the scheme will be able to process payments more often, with more than the current one payment cycle per week.
John de Vial, special adviser at Abta, said: “The new scheme will use the latest technology to allow fast, accurate and secure consolidated payments and refunds. We’re confident that it will greatly support users’ businesses and make payments easier.”
Abta said it chose Travel Ledger, after evaluating a number of systems, based on its technology knowhow and understanding of the travel sector.
It will use the same process as the older platform to avoid disruption to existing users’ back-office functions.
Travel Ledger, an electronic invoice and remittance system connected to UK and European banking, will also provide technical support to members, who will be able to review their own data and identify potential problems with future payments in advance of authorisation.
Founder Roberto De Ra said: “Having tested the Travel Ledger system successfully with a large focus group of Abta members, we’re delighted to offer the system across the entire Abta membership in the coming weeks and look forward to fruitful collaboration with them.”