"One of the value elements of VCN is a one to one relationship between the card and the transaction", The Paypers, 5 April 2016


Simon Barker, CEO at Conferma: "One of the value elements of VCN is a one to one relationship between the card and the transaction"

We have seen many new players come into this market, and that really helps to educate the corporate world about the benefits of VCNs

Conferma describes itself as a VCN (Virtual Card Number) provider. What does that mean and what is your history with VCNs?

See article on Paypers website


Our background is in the self-managed travel and booking industry. We developed software for hotel bookings so that it would be possible to manage allocations and book online.

However, the major problem we encountered was around payments. There was no standardised payment or reconciliation system to allow businesses to make and keep track of payments.

We looked to the air industry for inspiration. The travel industry is based on ticket numbers and the ticket number makes it possible to keep track of payments. What we did was to virtualise credit card numbers as they give the unique reference field needed to keep track of the payment.

We now provide both the technology and the gateway into the travel and entertainment vertical to 20 banks around the world. To the industry we are a system integrator. We take the card virtualization technology in place, or we use our own, and we integrate that into travel expense systems. We also have a number of banks who have moved from the travel and entertainment space, and into the B2B payment space. These corporates are using it for anything from new office supplies to taxi expenses.

What kind of competitors have started to copy you in the past few years?

We have seen many new players come into this market, and that really helps to educate the corporate world about the benefits of VCNs.

WEX pioneered card virtualization for the large OTEs (Online Travel Agents), like Hotels.com and Expedia. But in the travel and entertainment space, we have players like eNet, Comdata, Wirecard, and many more, which are delivering card virtualization solutions to the travel world.

The main difference between them and us, however, is that we are an independent service provider, not a bank, meaning that to use our service you do not need to have enter a banking partnership with us.

Say you have ordered something online, but you decide to return it and charge back the money; as the money cannot always be put on the card, how does this process work with VCNs?

One of the value elements of VCN is that you have a one to one relationship between the card and the transaction. During a ticket purchase, there are large number of variables. You can upgrade your seat, cancel the ticket or purchase add ones such as a hire care or hotel.

But what we are able to do with VCNs is to keep the card number live from the moment of creation until the moment that the product or service has been delivered and the events cannot be changed anymore. That might be a month, or six, or a year. This means that chargebacks can be directly handled via a VCN, making it easier to use than the alternatives.

With credit card fraud being one of the major issues in ecommerce, how does Conferma tackle the problem of fraud with VCNs?

It is very difficult for fraudsters to abuse VCNs. You create a VCN for a particular transaction, and you cannot change the amount or the time window of the transaction, nor the recipient of the money. A VCN has always only the properties to satisfy one particular order, making fraud very difficult.

What are the costs of using VCNs? Do VCN holders benefit from the European interchange fee regulations?

As far as corporate cards are concerned, they are not part of the new regulations, so they do not profit from them. But the costs of using VCNs are so much smaller, that corporates are still better off using them, as opposed to physical cards. The costs are oftentimes transactional, and in combination with the low fraud costs and low service costs, VCNs are one of the most cost-efficient payment solutions.