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Strong Customer Authentication - What to expect as we move into 2022

December 16, 2021


By Vicky LaFlamme
Director Product Marketing Americas

It seems like the travel industry has been talking about strong customer authentication (SCA) for aeons. In fact discussions started back in 2017. As we move into 2022, it’s a good time to better understand the complexities and to recognize that a complete roll-out of SCA will be an ongoing development.

SCA means that for each electronic payment, subject to some exemptions, the cardholder must be authenticated, i.e. verified by at least 2 out of the following 3 factors:

  1. Something the cardholder knows such as a password, PIN code, or secret fact.
  2. Something that is inherent to the cardholder such as a fingerprint, facial or iris scan.
  3. Something the cardholder has like a mobile phone, smart card, badge or token.

You have likely experienced SCA in your own personal credit card transactions such as when you have needed to add a special code or password before you can complete the transaction.

The process to execute is complex but reasonable as we consider that CWT like all participants within the travel supply chain are guided by the European Banking Authority and National Competent Authorities, regulators who are responsible to establish the working framework for SCA.

Regulations and development of systems supporting SCA are subject to interpretation laid out by card schemes, and in turn subject to interpretation by card issuing banks. These market actors define the precise rules and impacts within any supply chain including the travel industry, including air, car, hotel, rail, and travel management companies. Layer in the depth and complexity of travel corporate travel chain from booking platforms, through agents, consolidators and aggregators, to the disconnect between time of reservation and actual card charges by merchants, (e.g hotels) you can begin to see the challenge that regulators and the travel industry face.

It’s regulators who prescribe the rules.  As schemes and banks continue to interpret and adapt the rules, importantly on the various exemption options and their implementation throughout the travel supply chain, CWT will adopt accordingly as those changes occur. With a focus on the MOTO (Mail order/ Telephone orders) rule to date, CWT has implemented changes to ensure the best experience for your travelers when making bookings with our counselors today.  We continue to focus on re-engineering our systems to address the right processes and systems to meet the demands of SCA as we know them today all the while anticipating future requirements.

As we continue to move forward, CWT looks to the industry and to regulators for guidance and clarity to ensure that we adapt to future needs thus ensuring the best experience for your travelers.

In the meantime here is how you can be prepared as things progress with SCA into 2022.

  1. Contact your bank to understand your exposure – consider partnering with someone in your finance department for their expertise during these discussions.
  2. Ensure you know your bank's SCA protocol and provide guidance to your travelers on how to respond to SCA requests so that they won’t get stalled with payment and completing their transaction.
  3. Work with your CWT Client Advisor to analyse your booking patterns and how they could be impacted by SCA – read our second blog in this series for more information.
  4. Travel arrangers who use individual traveler credit cards to make reservations need to expect disruption with SCA. Have you considered lodge or virtual cards to eliminate any challenges in these instances?



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