With the boom of digital purchases more and more people are buying products and services on the internet, a practical and fast solution but at the same time with some critical issues related to security. Virtual cards offer an innovative and secure option for electronic payments, however, they are still a tool that is little used and known, despite being able to guarantee numerous advantages. Let's see in detail everything you need to know about them, to understand what a virtual card is, how it works and how to create one.
What are virtual cards
Buy online is undoubtedly a simple and functional way, however to buy digitally you need to use a traditional payment card. To finalize the order, in fact, you must enter the card data, indicating a series of sensitive information. These data are saved and stored by many websites and applications, with the risk that, should they suffer a hacker attack, this information can be stolen by cyber criminals.
Of course, modern cards are equipped with advanced security systems, however it is not that difficult for a cyber fraudster to clone our payment system. To enjoy greater security in online purchases you can use a virtual card, a 100% digital instrument completely devoid of the classic physical support. This solution offers higher standards for the protection of payments on the web, that's why it is important to know the technology and understand how to use it.
How the virtual card works
The operation of virtual cards is quite similar to that of a normal means of payment, however, there are substantial differences. First of all, these tools rely on an existing payment system, such as a credit card, a bank account or an app. In addition, virtualized cards also have a 16-digit code that is used to identify the payment method when making a purchase, which is different from the number of the original card or the instrument to which the digital card is linked.
Of course, to provide maximum security, the virtual card is also equipped with a CVV2 (Card Verification Value) confirmation code, or a CVC2 (Card Verification Code), a three-digit number that uniquely identifies the payment card by cross-checking it with the 16-digit number. In addition, the financial service provider also applies an expiration date to the virtual card, so it can only be used until the date indicated by the provider.
When you make a purchase on the Internet, you must enter all the information on the digital card, as if it were a real instrument, indicating the 16-digit number, the CVC2 security code and the expiration date. After that, the transaction will be carried out through the real card linked to the virtual one, making it extremely difficult to steal sensitive data. This mechanism can also work through an associated app, for example for these services that offer an online current account that can be managed from the mobile app.
An important aspect concerns the spending limit of the virtual card, in fact these telematic tools can be configured according to one's needs, taking into account the options offered by the reference banking service and the maximum thresholds of the original card or the linked current account. As a rule, the spending ceiling of the digital card can be customized without any particular restrictions, in any case it cannot exceed the constraints of the associated card or account.
What types of virtual cards exist
Nowadays there are different types of virtual cards, depending on the proposal of the provider, however, the two main solutions are the disposable virtual credit card and the temporary one. The first one is created and can be used just for an online purchase, so once you use the codes provided by the banking provider you can no longer make other payment transactions. The second, however, has a fixed duration, after which it loses its validity and you need to request another digital card.
The virtual disposable cards are suitable for those who make few purchases online, or to buy a product or a service on a site of which is not certain the reliability. In this way, even if there were to be problems, the financial damage would be really small, as both the original credit card and the payment app or bank account would be protected. Obviously it is not very practical to get a digital disposable card for every purchase, which is why they are not the best choice for frequent transactions.
In this case it is preferable to opt for a virtual time card, whose duration can be a few days or a few months, which is certainly a more practical solution to reuse the same codes several times. A possible use is the payment of a recurring service, such as a monthly subscription, since with a virtual card you will not be charged additional costs that are not due. At the same time, it is possible to choose a duration linked to the period of the subscription, so that after the last installment it is not possible to receive extra charges.
How to create a virtual credit card
To obtain a virtual card it is necessary to contact a company that offers this type of service, so a bank or a payment app that provides the possibility to apply for a digital card. This tool is increasingly popular, so there are now many operators that offer virtual cards as an option for online payments. Obviously, it is necessary to have activated a current account, or a traditional credit card or an app for online banking, services that are indispensable for associating the electronic card.
At this point, all that remains is to access the personal area, through the desktop platform or mobile application, then it is necessary to identify the dedicated service for issuing the virtual card and follow the guided procedure. Once you have defined the main characteristics, such as the type of card, the expiration date and the amount of expenditure, the system will provide all the data of the virtual credit card, including the 16-digit code, the verification number CVV2 and the duration with the date of use, fictitious information and different from the original financial service.
Choosing a disposable model you will be able to make just one payment, while opting for a longer validity you can take advantage of a real virtual prepaid card, very similar to a Postepay but virtualized. Although this tool must always be linked to a real means of payment, compared to the latter it can be configured differently, for example by setting different limits for the maximum amount spent, naturally equal to or lower and never higher than the associated credit card.
How to block and delete a virtual card
If for security reasons you want to block the virtual card, the operation to follow is the same as for a normal credit or debit card. Just log in to your home or mobile banking service, select the digital card and request immediate cancellation, for example because the data may have been uploaded from a fake website. In this way, even for those who are in possession of the data of the virtual card, it will not be possible to make any kind of payment.
Not having credit loaded inside, online cards do not involve any inconvenience, in fact the money spent with the virtual card is always withdrawn at the time from the original credit card. In the event of a block, nothing happens, just request another digital card and the money will always be safe. Time-based virtual cards, on the other hand, self-eliminate after expiration, while for disposable ones you have to be careful, since there is usually a time limit for using them, after which you have to create new codes from the online banking platform.
Who offers virtual credit cards
Not all operators offer this type of products, in fact, for example, there is no virtual PayPal card, but you can request a prepaid MasterCard with Iban with physical support to be connected to your account. Among the financial providers that offer digital cards there are Hype, Neteller, Intesa Sanpaolo, N26 and Tinaba. Then there are also services dedicated to companies and freelancers, such as Soldo and Qonto, through which you can create virtual business and corporate cards.
What are the advantages of virtual cards
Virtual cards are perfect for safe online purchases, especially when you don't trust the portal, or to offer a simple and risk-free payment system to your child. They also allow you to have greater control over your spending, as you can define maximums, type of use and duration of the card, making these tools ideal for checking outgoings. Of course, they are not suitable for every need, as some transactions require the use of a physical credit card, a traditional prepaid card, an app or a digital wallet.