Business Travel Card for APEC Economies Goes Digital; Australia first to transition


The Virtual APEC Business Travel Card | Source: APEC

SINGAPORE – The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Mobility Group has now launched the Virtual APEC Business Travel Card (ABATC). It is an innovative new method for traveling on the ABTC and brings the existing Scheme into the digital era, providing the much-valued service on cardholders’ smart devices.

The Virtual ABTC is a more secure, efficient, convenient, and user-friendly service. Importantly, it provides real-time updates so that a cardholder can immediately benefit from using their Virtual ABTC. Traveling on the ABTC will allow for the same streamlined and VIP service existing cardholders have come to enjoy. Still, it will provide an alternative method for producing and presenting their card when entering and exiting an Economy.

The Virtual ABTC displays a digital version of the APEC Business Travel Card on a mobile application, giving cardholders the ability to present their virtual card to enter an APEC economy.

Convenor of the APEC Business Mobility Group, Ms Kimberlee Stamatis, with members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)

“Our objective is to make traveling under the APEC Business Travel Card scheme more secure, efficient, convenient, and user-friendly, particularly as APEC members are looking for safe and effective measures to open up borders and resume international travel,” said Kimberlee Stamatis, convenor of the APEC Business Mobility Group, who oversees the scheme.

Each Economy will determine its own timeline to transition to the Virtual ABTC for its cardholders; however, from March 2021, we expect to see the first travelers in the region using the Virtual ABTC. Australia will be the first APEC Economic to transition to this superior service for all Australian cardholders. The Business Mobility Group looks forward to seeing other Economies transition shortly thereafter.

Stamatis, who is also a director at Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, added that Australia would be the first to transition to the digital service for all Australian cardholders from March 2021.

“We really look forward to seeing other economies transition as soon as possible thereafter,” she added.

The Virtual ABTC employs security features to provide economies greater confidence that a digital ABTC and cardholder are genuine. These features include:

  • Secure sign-on – An approved ABTC applicant will be sent an email with a unique token (an individual application number) for the Virtual ABTC and a link to download and log onto the Virtual ABTC.
  • User authentication – Users are required to ensure their user credentials are authenticated and verified when logging on to the Virtual ABTC. Only applicants who have been approved an ABTC and granted access to the Virtual ABTC can log in. Please refer below to the step-by-step process.
  • Screenshots – On Android devices, users are prevented from taking screenshots of the Virtual ABTC. On iOS devices, users who attempt to take a screenshot of the Virtual ABTC will be presented with a message reminding them that Airport Officials will not accept a screenshot of the Virtual ABTC.
  • Watermarks – The virtual card screen of the digital ABTC will have APEC and other discrete security watermark features, making it difficult to replicate fraudulently.  The holographic overlay and card background pattern change color and visibility in real-time in correlation with the device’s movement, allowing Airport Officials to quickly confirm that they have been presented with the official ABTC application rather than a screenshot or video capture.

These additional security features for the Virtual ABTC hinder fraudulent replication and misuse and protect cardholders and their personal details.

To support member economies’ transition to the new digital service, the process for issuing Virtual ABTCs has been streamlined to align with existing operations with as little change as necessary.

Nineteen APEC economies are fully participating members of the ABTC scheme, including Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Chile; China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; the Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; and Viet Nam. Canada and the United States are transitional members.

The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme facilitates short-term business travel within the APEC economies by streamlining the entry process at ports of entry within the region. Approved applicants are issued with a card that serves as the entry authority to fully participating economies.

The scheme reduces travel costs between APEC economies by 38 percent for cardholders, businesses pay 27 percent less in application fees and 52 percent less in immigration processing.

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