What features should you look for in a virtual corporate card?

Tilly Michell5 minutes
Business tips
What features should you look for in a virtual corporate card?
In this article

Corporate cards are a must for many companies, empowering employees to invest in necessary expenses without a lengthy permission process. They also involve resources and risks: accounts must be settled and reconciled, spending reigned in and only legitimate expenses reimbursed.

As eCommerce and digitisation came to dominate the business world, the idea that a piece of plastic must be delivered to an office before an employee can start spending has become outdated. Instead, it’s now possible to use a virtual corporate card: essentially a set of card details that can be used for digital transactions, without an associated physical card.

The virtual card – also known as a digital or electronic card – allows you to spend online just like a traditional corporate card, but it has added advantages. This article will explore those benefits and guide you through the process of choosing the right virtual corporate card for your business.

What is a virtual corporate card?

A virtual card can be issued and ready to use almost instantly. Creating a virtual card involves generating a set of card details, such as a card number, expiry date and card verification value (CVV). These can be used to complete online transactions or sometimes even contactless in-store transactions, via a computer or mobile device.

It’s possible to obtain a virtual credit card, virtual debit card, or prepaid virtual card. Each can be allocated to a specific employee, linked to company accounts, and programmed with spending controls and other functionalities. They are particularly suitable for supplier orders, software subscriptions, travel expenses, ad campaigns, and other bills such as cloud hosting. 

Airwallex offers multi-currency virtual debit cards with in-built expense management to help businesses manage company spending on a global scale.

Advantages of virtual corporate cards

There are many reasons companies are issuing virtual corporate cards to their employees to streamline their company spending and expense management. Here are some of the most important:

Robust security measures

Without a physical card, there’s no risk of losing a corporate card or having it stolen from a bag, drawer or wallet. In addition to these, there are many security advantages of a virtual corporate card:

  • Single-use cards: Virtual cards can be created to expire after a single intended purpose. For example, they could be generated to become invalid after a certain supplier order. This substantially cuts down the possibility that details could be intercepted and used for fraudulent purposes. 

  • Limited exposure: Even if cards aren’t single-use, they can be created for specific purposes, for example a software subscription. This means that a company’s primary card or account details aren’t exposed during transactions, which minimises the risk of card fraud.

  • Spending controls: Just as companies can limit a virtual card to a single spending category, they can also cap the amount that can be spent, and limit spending to a specific time period. They can even be programmed to only function when paying out to a pre-selected business. Again, this limits the damage of any potential malicious activity.

  • Visibility: Many virtual card issuers offer real-time spend tracking. This makes it easier to spot any unauthorised purchases.

  • Speed of termination: Virtual cards can be both generated and cancelled almost instantaneously. If a card is being used in a fraudulent manner, it can be swiftly shut down and a new card created.

There are other ways that security can be improved when choosing a virtual corporate card for your business. Look for a card that comes with multi-factor authentication, which adds an additional layer of identity verification on top of a password. This might take the form of a fingerprint scan or one-time password texted or emailed to users.

Secure card issuers should also use advanced encryption and tokenisation techniques to keep customer information safe, be compliant with relevant regulations in all the countries in which they operate, and employ AI and Machine Learning tools to automatically spot suspicious activity. 

Seamless expense management

Managing and keeping control of business and employee expenses can be a complex and lengthy process. It’s important to take advantage of the latest technological tools to ensure that you’re optimising your resources rather than wasting your team’s time. Automated expense management is something that the right virtual card can help with.

  • Cut down on admin: A modern virtual card solution can automate aspects of your expense reporting: sorting transactions into categories for easier reconciliation, for example, and capturing and storing digital receipts. When this is paired with a dashboard that makes oversight seamless, it adds up to better expense management and saved time. 

  • Manage approval workflows: Virtual cards should make approval effortless, even when multiple layers of approval are needed for a transaction to happen. When everything’s in one place and transparent to everyone with access, expenses can be easily submitted, reviewed and approved with a click. This allows expense management workflows to operate almost on autopilot, letting you dedicate your team’s resources to more important work.

  • Control and track spending: Spending limits can be set for virtual cards based on employee roles, departments or projects, to ensure that spending remains on-budget  and in control. Because all spending is visible to managers in real-time, a culture of accountability is maintained, and guidelines are more likely to be closely followed. 

Software integration for effortless accounting

  • Seamless syncing with accounts: Your virtual card platform should be able to sync with your pre-existing accounting software for truly effortless financial management. Auditing is facilitated by the detailed and accurate record of transaction data generated. This makes it easy to demonstrate compliance with financial regulations and internal policies.

  • Gain insights from your data: Virtual card platforms can include tools for forecasting and identifying cost-saving opportunities, based on monitoring real-time data,  When all the company’s financial information is organised, visible and in one place, it’s easier to gain insights from the flow of transactions that can help you further optimise your financial operations as time goes on.

User-friendly workflow from start to finish

Dealing with legacy banks, physical cards and the postal system can be frustratingly inefficient. In our current technological era, there’s no need to keep doing things this way. Virtual cards are designed to be quick and easy to issue, use and manage, whether you are in the office or on the go and using a mobile device.

With modern global virtual card issuers like Airwallex, the process is effortless, and a dedicated customer support team is on hand to ensure you are always on track. 

Choose the right virtual corporate card for your business

There’s a range of virtual corporate cards on offer. Here are some considerations to take into account when deciding which is right for your company:

Company size and type: To select the right virtual card for your company, you should first take stock of your current needs. What is the turnover you are dealing with, how large is your team, and what type of expenses do you have? A small business may prioritise simplicity and ease of use, whereas larger enterprises may be more interested in more complex features such as advanced reporting, multi-entity accounts, and intricate spending controls.

Ambitions to scale: Next, ask yourself about your ambitions and projects for the future. Card services should be scalable and flexible enough to support you while you grow.

Geographical location: Where is your business and your team based? If your team is spread across more than one country, it’s important to choose a card programme such as Airwallex, that allows you to issue cards globally. By using a single card issuer for all your global teams, you can keep track of company spending on a single platform. 

Cross-border business: Where are your customers and vendors based? If you regularly receive and send funds in multiple currencies, or have plans to do so in the future, it makes sense to choose a multi-currency card

A modern solution: the Airwallex Borderless Card

With an Airwallex Global Account, you can create virtual employee and company cards instantly, no matter where in the world team members are based, to streamline global purchasing. Spend directly from your Airwallex multi-currency Wallet, eliminating unnecessary FX conversion fees, and enjoy 0% foreign transaction fees. 

Airwallex customers also enjoy built-in expense management software, which syncs seamlessly with Xero and other accounting software for hassle-free bookkeeping. Sign up today to start using Airwallex Borderless Cards. 

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Tilly Michell
Content Marketing Manager

Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.

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