U.S. Bancorp to Buy Will Smith-Backed Travel Platform TravelBank for $200 Million

Skift Take

Banks see that integrating travel and expense products is an effective way to enhance their own credit card offering to customers, corporate or otherwise. Expect more deals before the year’s out.

Banks are racing ahead to snap up travel and expense platforms, as the rate of payments digitization accelerates.

Now TravelBank, a corporate travel agency that’s backed by actor Will Smith, has been acquired by U.S. Bancorp, parent of U.S. Bank.

U.S. Bank said the acquisition allows it to accelerate the integration of digital payments within the commercial segment. The deal was signed on Nov. 14, 2021 and the transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but Skift understands the deal was worth around $200 million.

CEO Duke Chung will move over to the bank, and TravelBank will continue to serve its existing clients including other banks. For example, it already plugs into American Express corporate cards to offer reconciliation and better visibility into spend.

U.S. Bank’s purchase comes several months after credit card company Capital One led a $170 million fundraising round for online travel agency Hopper. Hopper’s “fintech” offerings now represent a majority of its revenue.

“Many companies have employee expense reporting and travel systems that are paper-based, not mobile friendly and require extensive manual work,” U.S. Bank said in a statement. “The all-in-one TravelBank platform, which easily syncs into common accounting systems, automates this work and can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each organization.”

Meanwhile, software firm Expensify’s share price remains buoyant following its public listing last week.

TravelBank and U.S. Bank had been working together since September last year, with a partnership that integrated the travel agency into U.S. Bank’s Instant Card, to create an all-in-one solution for corporate expense management.

U.S. Bank also teamed up with with Chrome River in 2019 to launch an expense tool called Expense Wizard, which combines virtual payments and expense reporting with a chatbot. “You don’t have to remember all these details or dig out your calendar to get the details because you already captured it at the time of purchase,” said Bradley Matthews, senior vice president of corporate payment systems, at the time.

The pandemic was relatively kind to TravelBank, with its roster of home delivery clients. It counts DoorDash, Caviar and Grubhub as customers, which expanded as millions of people switched to local restaurant takeaways during lockdowns — with employers often picking up the tab.

Its new owner is now well placed to capitalize on corporate travel’s recovery over the coming years. “We are focused on giving businesses more confidence, control and convenience in managing payments and expenses. TravelBank will help us accelerate these efforts,” said Shailesh Kotwal, vice chair of payment services at U.S. Bank.

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