Will virtual cards replace plastic company credit cards?

3-minute read

To unpick the significance of a shift towards digital and virtual capabilities in business, Linda Weston, our Head of Core Product, looks at it from a company cards perspective. Are you on board with the move towards virtual cards?

Will virtual cards replace plastic company credit cards?
Linda Weston

A significant number of our business customers have started on a long journey to changing the way they do things. There’s a continued shift towards, and leverage of, some of the big changes that were made in response to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. For example, we saw many of our customers focus on and make huge leaps towards taking their businesses online. Now, those businesses are well set up to run, adapt and optimise their ecommerce offering and to continue that shift to virtual in other areas.

Supporting the move to virtual

Will virtual cards replace plastic?


Where we see an interest in further adoption still, is where solutions were already digital.

Travel is a good example of where this is happening and what the future could look like. Until relatively recently, an employee may have travelled by train and put their related expenses on the piece of plastic they have in their wallet. An employer would potentially have tracked that spend via an online servicing tool. Now, with the change of environment, the frequency of business travel is down significantly. Longer term there’s a chance we may see a move away from frequent international air business travel, towards more domestic travel. 

It’s so interesting to talk to customers about why virtual payments are on their digitisation agenda

Linda Weston, Head of Core Product, Barclaycard Business

For those businesses where that’s the case, it makes sense to find a virtual solution that gives businesses control and visibility of travel expenses, but that doesn’t require them to roll out big programmes of plastic cards across all of their employees.

We’ve seen this great opportunity with our customers. They’re saying: ‘we still want the capability of a corporate card, but can you do that in a virtual manner that we can more easily and efficiently deploy as and when a colleague might need it?’.

Some businesses are taking their digitisation even further, to fit with economic and behavioural changes

Linda Weston, Head of Core Product, Barclaycard Business

The trend is about leveraging existing capability and making it even more digital, virtual, and on demand. As a business, it’s important to be on top of these changes in attitude and behaviour. As well as to be able to anticipate how seismic changes in economy and behaviour should direct your product development strategy.

The powerful combination of capability and credibility

Further to that, and while capabilities are of course incredibly important, business customers are increasingly looking for strong advice from their bank and their payment provider. I recently went through a key piece of customer insight, which ranked priorities in order of importance when working with a supplier. Reliance on a provider as a trusted expert and advisor is still firmly at the top.

Giving confidence in the leap from cash to ecommerce

This is critical when businesses are looking to make huge shifts in the way they operate. I’ve talked about clients being more open to adopting innovation and technology – like making that shift from plastic cards to virtual cards – they’ve had to be. So now if you think about how the economy has transformed, you’ve got some businesses who have been always been bricks and mortar, cash has been their saviour in the past - if everything else fails ‘I can still take cash in my tills’.

Some of these businesses have found themselves having to just lift their businesses and drop them online. Embracing ecommerce is critical in many sectors right now, but with that comes a lot of anxiety and exposure to things like cybercrime; things they haven't been exposed to before.

That really drives the need for a provider that can give you confidence; that can say yes when customers ask: ‘have you done this before?’ and ‘are we doing it in the right way?’. Have you got the heritage that demonstrates that you devoted enough time, resources and focus to that control element to limit a customer’s risk exposure?

At times we might not be the first to market with something, but that’s because we need to make sure that the fundamentals are right for us and for the customer, long term. That balance of innovation, reliability and credibility is critical to the advice and support we offer our business customers.

Will virtual cards replace plastic?

Virtual payments and working capital

If you’re interested in learning more about virtual cards and how they could help manage and control employee spend, read about the business benefits of Precisionpay or call us on  08001512577 to discuss your business needs.

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