The rise of virtual card payments

The rise of virtual card payments


Many people now prefer virtual cards for both online and in-store purchases. Virtual cards are gradually becoming the new disruptive norm in payment methods, replacing physical cards, in the same way that online banking was initially criticized but is now widely embraced due to the disruptive nature of technology. As a result, as part of their efforts to promote digitization, many banks are now offering virtual banking options. By examining this payment method in greater depth, we can better understand how it can enhance daily transactions and online security.


The benefits of digital cards

  • By selecting a virtual card, you can avoid paying a fee to the bank for the creation and manufacturing of your physical bank card, which is an expensive operation.
  • Delivery costs are non-existent. When a branch is not close enough for you to pick up a real card, but you still want one, you might save time and money by taking the virtual route and avoiding delivery fees.
  • When you travel, it's convenient to always have your digital card on hand, no matter where you are in the world.
  • The virtual card is always with you on your smartphone in case you unintentionally leave your bank card at home.


Are virtual cards safe?

  • Virtual cards are secure, simple to use, free (or, at the very least, inexpensive), and will improve security and privacy. Most importantly, they will safeguard against fraud, theft, and other forms of cybercrime.
  • Using a physical card has limitations, particularly in terms of the unique CVV number. With virtual options available, many of the digital CVV cards issued have a CVV number that changes hourly, making it extremely difficult for cyber-crimes and fraud to occur to you.
  • No more chance of losing your card as the digital version is always available on your app or smart device.
  • Online or in-app payments made using virtual cards are more secure. The app substitutes a distinct virtual card number for your actual card number when you use a virtual card to make a purchase. When you check out, the virtual number hides your private payment information and aids in preventing fraud.


Which Banks are offering virtual cards?

You won't have any trouble finding a virtual card that works for you because almost all major banks in the nation provide them. Although physical bank cards are still the norm, some of the major banks have reported that usage and popularity of virtual cards have risen since 2022.

Below is a list of banks that offer options for virtual payments. 


Standard Bank

What does Standard Bank offer with a virtual card option?

  • Easily top-up your Virtual Card or link it to your existing Mastercard Credit Card.
  • Choose from a wide range of branded Virtual Cards or create a generic card - the choice is yours.
  • Virtual Cards are safer than physical cards because no-one can steal or duplicate your card, and you are in control of the amounts loaded on the card.
  • Some of the branded Virtual Cards offer you discounts or points when using them.



What are the main features and special offers of the FNB virtual card?

  • Virtual cards are easy to load for online purchases on Takealot, Amazon, and many more, and can be used for online subscriptions such as Uber, Netflix and more.
  • Virtual cards can also be used for FNB Pay (Tap to Pay, Scan to Pay) and all partner wallet transactions, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, without the need for a physical card.



Why use a Capitec virtual card?

  • It’s free to activate and use, and you can replace it immediately on the app.
  • You don’t have to use your physical debit or credit card details for online purchases anymore.
  • It’s safer than a physical card. You never have to worry about it being lost, stolen, or duplicated.
  • You can manage the virtual card and its limits on the app.
  • If your wallet or physical card is lost or stolen, the physical card can be stopped on the app. However, the virtual card will continue to work, so you’ll never be stranded without any means of payment.



What does Nedbank have to offer?

  • More security by making payments directly from your account using your virtual card details. Perfect for online and app purchases!
  • More control by setting daily, weekly or monthly spend limits and deciding how long you’d like each virtual card to remain active.
  • You can block and delete your virtual card at any time or create a new one instantly without impacting your linked account.
  • More rewarding with over and above the added peace of mind, you’ll earn Greenbacks and other membership rewards the same way as you would on your regular card.
  • Free of charge to create up to 5 digital cards on your credit or bank account at no cost, simply log in to the Money app and follow the easy prompts.


A top tip to keep in mind

  • Tap to pay payments will require NFC.
  • Not all phones support tap-to-pay. If you want to use your virtual cards and make payments with them via tap to pay, your handheld device must have NFC capabilities.


What is NFC and how does it work?

  • Users can use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make secure transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a single touch. NFC transmissions have a short range (a few centimetres) and require the devices to be close together.
  • Without NFC, your device will be unable to make tap-to-pay payments; however, you can obtain a virtual card and use it online, as well as use other scan-to-pay options. This is heavily dependent on your bank and the banking options available to you. Keep in mind that your virtual card depending on your device may be limited.


Virtual cards offer a range of digital options that eliminate the need for transactional cards, making them an essential tool for maintaining control over monthly spending and ensuring security. With rising incidents of fraud, there is a growing appeal to switch to digital payments, which offer enhanced safety measures. Moving towards digital payments can help to reduce the risk of fraud, and virtual cards provide a secure way to manage your finances while keeping your personal information safe.


Read more from our blog: