Controlled payment number

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Controlled payment number was introduced primarily as an anti-fraud measure so that a virtual unique credit card number can now be generated to settle a specific transaction, on an exact date by an authorised individual, making the possibility of a fraud occurring significantly less than a traditional physical card, which can be lost, stolen or indeed cloned.

This technology has been evolving for some time and goes under several different names.



A controlled payment number (a trademark of Orbiscom[1]), also called by generic names "substitute credit card number", "one-time use credit card", "disposable credit card" and "virtual credit card number, Virtual Card Numbers (VCN)" is an alias for a credit card number. It is generated through the use of either a Web application or a specialized client program, interacting with the card issuer's computer, and is linked to the actual credit card number.

Typically, a controlled payment number had a limit, and an expiration date between two and twelve months from the issue date, both chosen by the account owner, and while it could usually be set up to allow multiple transactions, it could only be used with a single merchant. This "alias" number is indistinguishable from an ordinary credit card number, and the user's actual credit card number is never revealed to the merchant. Consequently if it is compromised a fraudulent user can usually not steal money, and the limit reduces how much a dishonest merchant can steal.

The system was developed by Orbiscom, a Dublin-based payment processing company which was acquired by Mastercard in January 2009 and in parallel by Cyota Inc.[2] It is used by a number of credit card issuers. In the USA, these include Bank of America (which inherited its system, "ShopSafe," when it acquired MBNA), Citibank ("Virtual Account Numbers"), and NetSpend's "virtual accounts". Examples from other countries are MBnet, which can create a payment number linked to virtually any credit or debit card emitted in Portugal.


In 2006 a UK based Company, Conferma, created software that operates as a payment platform, enabling the creation of single use, unique virtual credit card numbers, specifically for use in the corporate travel and hospitality markets. In 2008 Barclaycard, the leading UK credit card issuer, joined with Conferma as their first banking partner.

By 2011 VCN's were in use in mainstream corporate payments under the Barclaycard Precisionpay[3] label and HSBC and Mastercard announce that they will be issuing their customers with Virtual Card Numbers . These are integrated into their "MiBooking" [4] and "inControl” [5] technologies respectively.


In 2013 The Royal Bank of Scotland's Mastercard customers become the first to benefit from MasterCard’s enhanced Central Travel Service, (eCTS) which uses VCN technology.

Abacus [6] integrate Virtual Card Numbers (VCN's) into the Global Distribution System in the Asian Pacific region.[7]

The Visa Virtual Travel account platform, powered by Conferma is made available to Visa Europe members,[8] banks and other payment service providers from 37 countries across Europe and their commercial customers.


Abine offer a service called MaskMe which, for a monthly subscription, allows US users to create what they call "masked credit cards" for a user-specified amount and using a specified Abine billing address.[9]

Discontinued programs[edit]

As of February 7, 2014, Discover Card discontinued its Secure Online Account Numbers service, stating that Discover no longer has access to the underlying technology. All existing Secure Online Account Numbers expired on March 16, 2014.[10]

In the UK, Ivobank offered a similar "virtual card" until it went bankrupt in 2009, and Cahoot withdrew their Webcard in October 2009.

American Express's "Private Payments" was available from late 2000 to 2004.

Paypal discontinued their virtual credit card service on September 22, 2010.[11]

UK-based Neteller offered Net+, a "virtual debit card" with card details generated uniquely for each transaction, from 2008 to 2012; it was discontinued on 29 February 2012, citing lack of use by customers.


Category:Credit cards Category:Credit Card Technology Category:Barclays Group Category:Payment Systems Category:American Express