OCBC’s inaugural virtual purchasing card offering leverage on Visa product

Image credit: Hloom via Flickr

OCBC Bank is first to leverage Visa Commercial Pay Mobile as part of its inaugural virtual purchasing card offering

virtual purchasing card
Image credit: Hloom via Flickr

OCBC Bank is the first in the world to leverage Visa Commercial Pay mobile solution as part of its inaugural virtual purchasing card offering. The OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card enables businesses to digitalise and streamline all their payment requirements. This solution provides real-time visibility of their employees’ spending on OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card, as well as captures enhanced data for automatic reconciliation. Benefits that can be unlocked by having better visibility include the identification of core spending categories, and with that knowledge, more effective price negotiation with suppliers is possible.

Visa Commercial Pay mobile enables the employees and non-employees of OCBC corporate customers to request virtual cards on demand via their mobile app and use the virtual cards for making mobile contactless, in-app and online payments at all Visa accepting merchants. This reduces the need for employees and non-employees such as contract staff and visiting delegates,  to pay out of their own pockets first as the card can be instantly issued even for ad-hoc transactions.

The OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card also features two other B2B payment offerings – the Visa Commercial Pay B2B and the Visa Commercial Pay travel.

  • Visa Commercial Pay B2B: A digital platform that allows corporates to generate unique virtual card numbers with pre-defined control parameters and customised data fields for each invoice payment to their suppliers.
  • Visa Commercial Pay travel: A solution that enables businesses to centrally manage their business travel spend, such as air travel, hotel, rail and car rental. The solution seamlessly integrates into business travel reservation processes and can deliver enhanced travellers’ data, full spend visibility and automated expense reconciliation through the use of unique virtual card numbers for each booking. Travellers are also able to view their travel reservations together with their trip spend within the Visa Commercial Pay mobile app.

Virtual cards issued under the OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card programme can be for single or recurring use, with pre-defined control parameters. These control parameters can be spend limit, validity period or even right down to a specific category of goods and services.

These features make the OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card a more appealing payment tool than the traditional commercial card.

Table A: Comparison between OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card and a traditional commercial card
OCBC Virtual Purchasing CardTraditional Commercial Card
IssuanceManagers can instantly issue virtual cards to both employees and non-employees for business purchases.It typically takes weeks from application to issuance of the physical card to employees.
Controls1) Option of single use in addition to recurring use virtual cards.2) Managers can issue cards with pre-set spending limits and validity periods.3) Managers can limit the virtual card’s use to certain categories of goods and services. For instance, if a virtual card is issued for laptop purchases, the card cannot be used at non-electronics stores.1) No option of issuing single use cards.2) A physical card is a one-time issuance and spending limits are fixed, generally at higher levels, which could lead to overspending. The validity period usually spans years and automatically renews.3) No option to restrict spending to certain categories only. In the ‘spend first, approve later’ process of a traditional commercial card, the purchases made using the card would only be known to the manager when the monthly statement is generated for his approval.
Security1) For tap and pay contactless payments, employees and merchants never see the card details.2) For online payments, while employees can see the card details, fraud risk is mitigated with option of issuing single use cards (see “Controls” above)As card details are on the physical card, they are exposed to the employee and merchant, and therefore subject to potential fraud risks.

The launch of the OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card is timely as such digital payment solutions are expected to grow in popularity.

According to Mercator Advisory Group, which specialises in global payments, their research on commercial cards for international markets showed that the adoption of virtual card solutions by companies in Asia Pacific is poised to grow at 40 per cent over the next four years. The benefits that such virtual card solutions can bring to working capital were cited as one of the factors behind this potential growth.

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is the bank’s first customer to sign up for this solution and will be piloted to its employees in the second quarter of 2021.

They will be able to use their virtual commercial cards across a range of procurement scenarios, including items like software licenses, subscription fees and payments for travel booking.

Currently, university employees use personal cards to pay for certain corporate purchases and seek reimbursements thereafter. The OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card programme will replace the manual processes of reimbursement and account reconciliation with a streamlined and user-friendly alternative that saves time for employees.

Ms Kwek Peck Lin, Director for Planning & Finance, SUSS, said, “We want to digitalise the way we work and that extends to all aspects of the university’s operations. This virtual card solution makes payments easier for our employees – everything can be done via mobile app – and for our finance department too. In terms of security, virtual cards provide more assurance compared to traditional commercial card solutions, and that was also an important factor for us when deciding to come onboard.”

Mr Melvyn Low, Head, Global Transaction Banking, OCBC Bank, said, “The OCBC Virtual Purchasing Card is very relevant to businesses today. It is a highly secure payment solution that gives a bird’s-eye view on spending – which is data that many businesses do not yet have access to today.

“Many of the bank’s clients have expressed interest in adopting this solution, with SUSS being the first to come onboard. We expect the take-up to be strong, especially for businesses looking to introduce a commercial card scheme for the first time as they can now leap-frog physical cards and go straight to a virtual card scheme.” 

Mr Kunal Chatterjee, Visa Country Manager for Singapore & Brunei commented, “The opportunity to convert more business payments to be made digitally is tremendous in the commercial sector in Singapore. We believe it is important for us to work with our partners, such as OCBC Bank to introduce innovative solutions that will benefit corporates including the ability to issue virtual commercial cards instantly to employees of organisations so that they can make business payments seamlessly. We are also proud to share that it will be the first time in the world that corporates are able to make mobile contactless payments using their virtual payment cards with Visa Commercial Pay.”

Mr Paul Ho, chief officer at iCompareLoan, said: “as even small and medium businesses are seeking digital payment solutions these days, OCBC’s Virtual Purchasing Card will be much sought after.”

Written by Ravi Chandran

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