Controlled payment number

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

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", or "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.

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



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.

Conferma-powered partner solutions for corporate payments with virtual card numbers:


January 2009, Mastercard and Cyota Inc acquired the controlled payment number system developed by Orbiscom, a Dublin-based payment processing company.[9] In the USA, the system is used by the following credit card issuers: Bank of America "ShopSafe"[10] (inherited when it acquired MBNA) and Citibank "Virtual Account Numbers".[11] Examples from other countries are MBnet, which can create a payment number linked to virtually any credit or debit card emitted in Portugal.

Orbiscom’s patented payment technologies has been integrated with MasterCard’s global processing platform, "inControl".[12]

In 2013 Royal Bank of Scotland MasterCard customers became eligible for MasterCard’s enhanced Central Travel Service (eCTS), which uses VCN technology. This service is intended to provide companies currently paying for travel through multiple accounts with a centralised travel payments system.[13]

In 2015 Etisalat Egypt ,National bank of Egypt NBE and MasterCard launched " Virtual Card Numbers, VCN" service via Flous service . The service works on any mobile phone from the basic phone to the latest and most sophisticated mobile device and is easily accessible from your phone menu. Every time the customer requests a VCN she/he will receive an SMS containing different card numbers with different card info

CSI globalVCard[edit]

In 2009, CSI Enterprises launched its globalVCard brand, enabling corporate customers to issue single or multi use virtual credit card numbers for their payables. CSI introduced a mobile version of globalVCard in 2011, enabling the creation of single-use virtual card numbers from a mobile device.[14] In 2013, CSI and MasterCard publicly announced an alliance that would bring a joint virtual card solution to banks and corporates.[15] The agreement leverages CSI’s proprietary technology and enablement services to help customers capture more payables spend on virtual cards.[16] The company launched its globalVCard travel solution in 2013, enabling corporate travel managers to book air, hotel and car reservations through a single-use virtual card.


Abine offers a service called MaskMe which for a monthly subscription plus usage charges allows users, as of October 2014 in the USA only, to create what they call "masked credit cards" for a user-specified amount and using a billing address supplied by Abine.[17]

Discontinued programs[edit]

On February 7, 2014, the US Discover Card discontinued its Secure Online Account Numbers service, saying that Discover no longer had access to the underlying technology. All existing Secure Online Account Numbers expired on March 16, 2014.[18]

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.[19]

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.


  1. ^ "Controlled Payment Numbers". Orbiscom. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  2. ^ Barclaycard Precisionpay
  3. ^ MiBooking
  4. ^ Conferma Announces Partnership With HSBC
  5. ^ inControl
  6. ^ Abacus
  7. ^ Abacus and Conferma sign strategic agreement
  8. ^ Visa Europe and conferma
  9. ^ "MasterCard Worldwide Acquires Orbiscom to Accelerate Development of Innovative Payment Solution". Orbiscom. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  10. ^ "ShopSafe". bankofamerica. Retrieved 2014-10-01. 
  11. ^ "Virtual Account Numbers". citi. Retrieved 2014-10-01. 
  12. ^ "Commercial Products". Mastercard. Retrieved 2014-10-01. 
  13. ^ MasterCard Central Travel Solution brochure
  14. ^ [1], "14 Ways to Accept Mobile Payments",, May 10, 2013. Accessed November 28, 2014.
  15. ^ [2], "CSI Enterprises and MasterCard Position to Change Payments Landscape with Virtual Payment Solution for Issuers and End Corporates", press release issued October 11, 2013. Accessed November 29, 2014.
  16. ^ [3], “CSI, MasterCard Build on Partnership, Redouble B2B Efforts”, executive interview published on, October 3, 2013. Accessed November 28, 2014.
  17. ^ Abine DoNotTrackMeSupport: What are Masked Cards?
  18. ^ "Discover to Discontinue Secure Online Account Numbers Again". 
  19. ^ "Paypal Plugin will no longer be available".