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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Combatting Fraud with VCNs

Conferma Virtual Card Numbers (VCNs) provide not only provide better control, process efficiencies and data to corporates, Travel Management Companies and technology partners, but also tanglible benefits to our financial partners - the banks and card schemes. You often hear that VCNs or Single Use Accounts (SUAs) can optimise payment processes thanks to automated reconciliation and tighter controls, however that's only one side of the story.

In travel and expense (T&E), the norm is to lodge a single credit card against a company where the card is passed around the office and used for hundreds, if not thousands of bookings every month. The card numbers is circulated and stored everywhere: websites; faxes; memorised by individuals; they are even on Post-it notes stuck to travel agents' computer screens. Often the card has a high credit limit and can be charged by anyone. Sound susceptible to fraud? That's because it is.

According to the Nilsen Report, card fraud in the US rose last year to a whopping $5.33bn. The US also acccounted for 47% of global card fraud. This is obviously of grave concern to US-based card issuers who are committed to working together to implement EMV (Chip and PIN) in the not too distant future. EMV has been an unboubted success in parts of Europe, where some countries boast a merchant adoption rate of greater than 95%, according to EMVCo. The European Central Bank has seen a reduction in card fraud by 7.6% in the Eurozone, whislt overall card usage continues to climb.

Security and control is integral to reducing card fraud and we fully support the rollout of EMV, ensuring a reduction in the cost of banking. However, the downside is the upfront investment required to implement EMV, which is neither simple nor cheap. Before you even reach market, consider the cost of card issuer scoping, nationwide card rollout schemes, merchant adoption, consumer education and PDQ equipment. There is no quick fix. Moreover, EMV is irrelevant in a Cardholder Not Present (CNP) environment such as e-commerce. In the United Kingdom, 63% of card fraud occcurs in a CNP environment according to Financial Fraud Action (http://www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/Publications/#/20/zoomed)

In B2B spend, VCNs or SUAs are a strong player in the reduction your fraud risk profile and do not require merchants to change their existing e-commerce practices. VCNs are generated for a specific purchase, allowing restrictions to be applied to the VCN such as the total amount, merchant category, validity dates when the card can be billed and the number of times the card can be charged. Access audit logs are also associated with VCNs to provide full transparency of who has spent what. Valid merchants can simply bill VCNs as a cardholder not present transaction using their standard POS terminal.

The reduction in card fraud enabled through the adoption of VCNs isn't simply calculated by the transaction amount. It's calculated through efficiencies gained thanks to fewer calls to the card issuer which saves time and money for both the corporate customer and the card issuer. A UK-based issuer that we work with has estimated their process efficiency to have improved by 90% since operating a virtual travel card program rather than a traditional single card payment.

Next time you think virtual cards, think beyond automated reconciliation and reduction of maverick corporate spend. Conferma's VCNs also provide reduced fraud risk profile and operational efficiencies for major financial institutions.