Virtual cards act like a layer of protection between your funding source and the merchant. But what are virtual cards? A virtual card (like a debit card) has a unique 16-digit card number connected to an existing credit card used for ongoing purchases without exposing the real card. A virtual card is stored on your phone and can be used in stores or online. It has its own unique card number, expiry date and Card Verification Code (CVC).
Virtual cards are the way to go for ease in online transactions for a number of payments.
A virtual card has a number of benefits. They save the inconvenience of moving with your wallet since the card is on your phone, there is instant activation, and at most paying for subscription on Netflix, Spotify and other online platforms so that you continue listening to Hip Hop, making payments with/on PayPal, Adobe, Amazon, Canva, Meta, Zoom and more.
Here in Uganda lots of payments are via mobile money both Airtel and MTN or direct online transfers from bank accounts. Virtual cards would ease life of a normal Ugandan because you don’t have to carry your Debit or Credit cards. Its hard to find an average Ugandan using either debit or credit card to pay for Netflix subscription or any other subscriptions and make online payments.
It takes away the hustle of creating bank accounts that you may not need after time. One can cancel the Virtual card with a few clicks. You can create a card for almost any purspose and you don’t your money in one place.
Summary of what you can use your Virtual card for
- Buy your favourite album online
- Pay for a music streaming subscription to stream or download music
- Pay for Netflix, Showmax and others
- Shop at any Point of Sale (POS) service provider
- Buy anything online like musical instruments, beats, name it!
The question is, how do I create a virtual card?
A number of Virtual cards are created online but first one needs an account under the company he or she needs to get a virtual card like Flutterwave, Eversend, Xente Co and others.
- If one is to create a virtual card with Eversend these are the following steps:
- Add money to the Eversend wallet and convert it to dollar using the in-app exchange rate
- Tap cards then “create new card” feature followed by adding a USD amount to the card.
The minimum amount required to create the card is $5 and renewal of the card is $1.
A recovery monthly fee of the same value with funds on the card can be maintained as a balance or withdraw balance of the Eversend wallet.
Virtual cards created from Eversend can be used up to 3 years before expiring and the account is usually a dollar or pound account.
Flutterwave has similar charges like Eversend while Chipper Cash has introduced its card in Uganda with no charges for creating the card at the moment and the balance in your Chipper wallet is what funds the card.
Xente Co charges about upwards of USHs 4500 for the creation of the virtual card which is directly topped up from your bank account or mobile money account which is almost a general standard. Xente also goes a head to provide a physical Visa card at a cost.
MTN and Airtel had their virtual cards apparently seem defunct and promised lower charge of USHs 1,000 per creation of a card and any transaction.
The development of the virtual cards is as a result of Banks in Africa charging the customers between 5% to 20% using local currency to make transactions online.
For most of these Virtual Card providers, users will save about 3% to 13% with charges while transacting and will also be able to exchange the local currency to USD.
The Downside though!
- Fraudlent cases just like any finance related crime
- You need Internet connectivity and in some areas of Uganda this is still an issue much as it is improving
However Virtual cards are the future, especially for easy set up of subscription for streaming services and making online payments on the go, easy and low exchange rates, low charges and utmost they have security measures.
Your choice of a provider will depend on what you wish to use a card for.
NOTE: Like any confidential document or information, the details of your virtual card shouldn’t be shared with anyone or on untrusted sites.