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Virtual Cards Become a Reality

by Ludovic Velasco-Martinez, Head of Marketing, Commercial Cards, BNP Paribas


Payment cards are now widely adopted by corporations, particularly in areas such as expenses management, from travel and accommodation expenses incurred by individuals through to meeting and conference costs, incentives, entertainment, media and online expenses. Increasingly, however, payment cards are being superseded by virtual cards for these purposes.

Unlike physical cards, each virtual card number can be used for one transaction. There are two ways to obtain a virtual card number, either inputting the transaction details into a web application or, where spending is high, this process can be automated by linking the virtual card server and booking/expenses systems – exchanged between machines and pushed to suppliers. A variety of limits and controls can be set up, e.g. on amount, category, supplier, currency etc. so effectively, all virtual card payments are pre-authorised, Additional references such as the booking or purchase order can also be linked to the virtual card number for reconciliation.

Virtual cards therefore bring a range of benefits: