Because virtual credit cards are totally digital, they can’t be lost or stolen, making them more secure than standard cards. Their use can also protect a business if a merchant’s site is hacked, because there is nothing more to steal than a random, virtual number. Such theft is a greater risk than ever because hackers, now thwarted by chips in standard cards, have redirected their energy to Web hacking. Since January of last year, quite a few major brands have been compromised. Jupiter Research projects that online fraud will grow beyond $26.5 billion by 2020.3
Virtual cards can help. The financial controls afforded by many virtual cards add a further layer of protection. By setting credit limits to the penny and defining expiration dates or setting cards to expire after a single use, these credit card generator can be set up for a single purchase. That helps prevent misuse by untrained or careless employees and can thwart bad actors, as well.
Virtual Credit Cards Can Ease Accounting
Those same financial controls can also improve approval and tracking. Suppose an employee needs to purchase office supplies. The employee can shop for the necessary products online, then, at checkout—when the exact, final cost is known—he or she can submit the total amount for approval. This way, a manager can issue the virtual card with a spending limit that matches the cost, while also setting immediate expiration. The employee then completes the purchase. The virtual card number is tied only to that specific transaction, so spending is approved and tracked in real time. Many virtual card programs allow users to generate unlimited numbers, so controls can be as tight as users want.
To help businesses take additional advantage of such controls, startups are emerging to help businesses customize, or “up-level,” their virtual cards. These companies use application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable sharing data from virtual cards with other financial management tools. This process is very different from having a single credit card used across the organization, which is common at many small businesses and in corporate departments. The single card approach is less than ideal because, for one thing, all expenses must be identified and reconciled—usually manually—after the fact.