What is a virtual card API?
A virtual card API is an application programming interface that allows you to generate and manage virtual cards. Virtual cards are randomly generated 16-digit credit card numbers but are not plastic. They can be used for single purchases as a secure transaction method to use online or by telephone. The numbers cannot be linked back to your business or your accounts, making them ideal as a fraud-prevention tool.
While virtual cards can be invaluable and can eliminate commercial checks, the Mercator Advisory Group reports that businesses say that they make more than half of their payments to vendors via checks. Virtual cards are safer than using checks for purchases and should be considered for your company.
A virtual card API is an application protocol interface that you can integrate with your existing applications. You can use it to generate as many virtual cards as you need without having to repeatedly enter code or click buttons.
How does a virtual card API work?
A virtual card API allows developers to create virtual cards via an application programming interface that is compatible with most technology stacks. A virtual card API can be integrated into all kinds of applications such as those on your computers, tablets, or mobile devices. You can write a custom application that allows you to generate as many virtual cards as your company needs without having to use another services interface that might not have the features or workflows you need. Virtual APIs can also be used to create dashboards for monitoring transactions and business spending. These are just a couple of things you could build with a Virtual card API, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Virtual card APIs generate virtual card numbers that your employees can use to make one-off purchases. After the numbers have been used, they will no longer work. The numbers also cannot be used to access your accounts or trace back to your company.
Who uses virtual card APIs?
Virtual card APIs are generally the most beneficial to companies that conduct a high volume of transactions remotely and that need to have security while making the purchases online or by telephone. Virtual cards are beneficial to your business when shopping online or purchasing from vendors remotely. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from using virtual cards.
With a virtual card API, businesses can generate hundreds of virtual numbers to use without having to repetitively input code or click buttons. The numbers can be assigned for different pre-approved purchases that can be made by the business and its employees.
Where can a virtual card API be used?
Virtual cards can be used to make remote purchases, but they cannot be used to make in-person purchases since they are not plastic cards but only randomly generated numbers. The numbers are associated with your account but cannot be linked back to it, and they either expire after a single purchase or after a set period of time.
Virtual card API can be used by businesses of all sizes. The application programming interface can be integrated into software that runs on your mobile devices, your office equipment, or both. Developers can write code so that it seamlessly integrates with your existing software to automate many payment processes within your company.
Virtual card APIs allow custom accounts payable workflows
With a virtual card API, you can create custom accounts payable workflows in a programmatic manner. Using a manual method to process invoices is tedious and time-consuming. With a virtual card API, you can generate virtual cards and assign them to your different suppliers.
Instead of processing invoices, your employees can concentrate on other important tasks while the trusted vendors and suppliers can charge your payments to the numbers that you have assigned to them. The charges will be routed back to your underlying account so that your invoices are processed much faster, helping to build goodwill between you and your suppliers and vendors.
Virtual prepaid card API
With a virtual prepaid card API, you can generate as many prepaid cards for your employees that you want without having to manually enter information over and over. You can specify the number of virtual prepaid cards that you need to generate and the spending restrictions that you want to include.
The virtual prepaid cards can then be distributed to the employees who will make pre-approved purchases for your business. The expenses will be trackable by each prepaid card number so that you can see what has been spent at any time.
Virtual cards help prevent fraud
Using virtual cards helps to prevent fraud. The numbers either are only able to be used for a single purchase or have a set number of transactions that are allowed before they expire. Virtual cards are associated with your original account, but the numbers can’t be used to identify your business or to withdraw funds from your account.
With a virtual card, you can choose how much money to place on it and where and when it can be used. Once a purchase is completed, the number will expire. Any remaining balance will be re-credited to your account.
Procurement cards vs. ghost cards
Two different types of cards that can be generated with a virtual card API include procurement cards and ghost cards. Like virtual cards, these are card numbers that are randomly generated and not plastic cards, but they are used in different ways.
With a procurement card API, you can generate purchasing cards to give to certain employees. Your employees may then use the cards over a specific time period to make authorized purchases. A ghost card API can allow you to generate numbers to assign to different departments or to suppliers with whom you do a high volume of transactions. This makes the spending trackable by the employee, department, or supplier.
Ghost cards vs. virtual cards
When you use a ghost card API to generate virtual card numbers for individual departments, the employees within those departments can use the numbers to make purchases remotely. The purchases are then charged back to the departments so that you can track them, and the numbers might be used over time.
By contrast, virtual cards normally refer to single-use numbers that expire once they are used. For example, if you need to pay for a large item with a card, you can generate a card that is authorized for that specific vendor in the amount of the purchase.
Virtual cards vs. procurement cards
Procurement cards also differ from virtual cards. While virtual cards are generally used to make single purchases before they expire, virtual procurement cards can be assigned to specific employees to make authorized purchases over a set time period.
A procurement card might be given to an employee to pay for ongoing transactions with a vendor, and it can be turned off in between the payments. When it is turned off, the number won’t work. You can turn the card back on when it is time to make the payment again.
The cards that you can create with a virtual card API
With a virtual card service API, you can create virtual debit cards, virtual credit cards, procurement cards, and ghost cards. You can use your ghost card API to generate numbers to assign to individual departments for easier tracking. You can also use your ghost card API to generate numbers to assign to your high-volume suppliers or vendors. A ghost card API allows you to categorize expenses either horizontally or vertically within your organization and is scalable.
A p-card API can be used to generate p-cards to give to certain employees. After you have used your p-card API, you can give the numbers to the employees to make purchases that you have authorized. Your p-card API allows you to set limits on the amounts that can be spent each day. You can use your p-card API to restrict the cards to being used to make purchases from specific vendors or suppliers and turn them off whenever you wish.
Categorize purchases for easy accounting and group spending by the department
Your virtual card API can help you to automate the categorization of the expenses that occur at your company. Since the ghost card API or p-card API can easily integrate with your existing custom business applications, the transaction information can automatically populate into the correct expense categories without manual entry.
By assigning different numbers to each department, you can also group spending according to the departments from which it originates. This feature can allow you to track how different departments are spending your money and to make budget adjustments when they are needed.
Preapprove purchases and enforce expense policies
Using a virtual card service API in your company can help you to enforce your expense policies. You are able to choose the spending categories that are allowed and restrict each card number according to when, where, and how much money can be spent.
These features allow you to enforce your existing expense policies. You can prevent unauthorized transactions from happening and plug expense leaks that you identify.
Expense management and controls from Bento for Business
Bento for Business’s solutions come with extensive controls and expense management tools to help your business. You can control how your money can be spent, when it can be spent, and where purchases can be made.
For example, you can generate a virtual card to give to an employee to use to make a purchase from a new vendor with which you are unfamiliar. The employee can use the number to make the purchase, and the number will not work again. If the vendor tries to charge unauthorized items to your number, it won’t work. You will see the attempt, and you can make appropriate business decisions with that information.
Bento for Business is a recognized leader in virtual card APIs
Bento for Business offers a suite of robust debit card and virtual card solutions to businesses. The company has thousands of loyal business customers and regularly receives excellent reviews, including a five out of five rating on Capterra.
Bento does not charge interest on your purchases because the cards are not credit cards. You can order the number of cards that you need by selecting from among the various packages that Bento offers. If you are a large company, you do not have to pay for the cards if you spend $20,000 or more. To learn more about the virtual card service API from Bento, call 866.220.8455.