Commercial Virtual Card 101 – multiple card numbers and payment limit customisation | Article – HSBC VisionGo

As the e-commerce eco-system went through a boom in the past year, you may also have taken more of your business-to-business (B2B) payments online.

Finance  ·    ·  3 mins read

As the e-commerce eco-system went through a boom in the past year, you may also have taken more of your business-to-business (B2B) payments online.

But while you enjoy the convenience, are you still spending a lot of time on payment reconciliation? Have you thought about entrusting your staff to use your commercial credit cards for online payments – without creating complicated internal control processes? 

The HSBC Virtual Card may be your solution. 

What are virtual cards?

Virtual cards are dedicated to online purchases. They work like traditional credit cards in many ways. The key difference is there is no physical card in your hand. 

A unique virtual card number is generated and used for each payment, so no data of your underlying card account will be shared on the payment platform. That gives extra protection for your privacy and security.  

Who is the HSBC Virtual Card for?

It is designed for HSBC business customers who make frequent online B2B payments and would like better control over commercial card usage.  

What’s good about it? 

It is highly customisable. How you use your virtual card depends totally on your business needs. It can also be integrated into accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, making reporting easier.

If you have a number of clients, you can assign a unique virtual card number for all online transactions made in relation to each client. If you have many projects on hand, you can set up one virtual card number for each project. You can also set up a virtual card number dedicated to a particular type of recurring payments in the day-to-day operations of your company. You can even get a virtual card number just for a one-off transaction. 

Using virtual cards also helps reduce the use of plastic as no physical card is produced – another plus in your company’s drive towards sustainability. 

It’s so virtual I can’t really visualise what it means …  

Now, let’s meet Kate, the owner of a Public Relations agency. She frequently orders goods and services, such as advertisement placements, on behalf of 10 clients. With the HSBC Virtual Card, she can now set up 10 virtual card numbers – one unique number to make online payments for each client.  

On Kate’s credit card statement, all online purchases made for one client will be consolidated under one card programme, allowing Kate to easily identify and charge her clients for their respective out-of-pocket expenses. The bills are reconciled automatically – so no more telling-off by her accountant!

Meanwhile, Kate’s assistant organises subscriptions to a number of online media portals across different markets. As the card administrator, Kate can now set up a virtual card number for her assistant – as a virtual card user – solely for this purpose, by restricting the merchant category of this virtual card number to media organisations based in a specific list of countries.  

What’s more, since Kate knows exactly how much each monthly subscription costs, and that the company will pay 12 times for each subscription over the coming year, she can set this virtual card number’s payment limit and number of payments to be just enough to cover all these subscriptions. This level of control gives Kate the peace of mind she needs without having to put in place extra internal control process, so she can focus on the core of her business.  

So no plastic, and not even RFID nor NFC – how do I pay?  

Everything is done online. 

Once your application for the HSBC Virtual Card programme is approved, you can log into the virtual card web portal to generate as many virtual card numbers as your business requires.  

As you generate a new virtual card number, customise it on the web portal with details such as payment limit, currencies allowed, and merchant categories that this card number is restricted to. You can limit the number of uses or validity period, or exclude certain merchant categories so that this card cannot be used to pay them. 

When you are at a merchant’s payment page, simply enter the virtual card number and other details – just like what you would do with a physical card. The virtual card can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted.  

On your monthly credit card statement, each transaction description will list the corresponding virtual card number, so you will be able to easily identify what the payment is for. 

Like any HSBC commercial card, the virtual card is subject to stringent protection against fraudulent activities. You can check your transactions real-time through the virtual card web portal. If you spot any suspicious activities, you can cancel all or some of your virtual card numbers through the portal immediately.  

It sounds great! How can I get one? 

As global e-commerce continues to expand, it’s now time to take more of your B2B operations online. Speak to your Relationship Manager now to get your HSBC Virtual Card! 


Reminder: "To borrow or not to borrow? Borrow only if you can repay!"