Next up for virtual cards: Embedded payments

Companies can reduce friction by inserting virtual card numbers into existing workflows

By Mary Mazzochi, SVP, Commercial Card Product Executive, Wells Fargo

Remember when taking a photograph meant lugging a camera? Or when sharing digital photos required uploading images from a memory card, opening a separate program to edit, then logging into your email to send?

Now, your smartphone not only takes the picture, it lets you crop, retouch, tag, and share an image — all from within the camera application. It’s quick, efficient, and convenient.

Point, click, and pay

The same simplicity that revolutionized personal photography is coming to commercial card payments. API interfaces now let companies embed virtual card payments into numerous processes and systems. Instead of logging in and out of various systems and portals, everything required to issue a virtual card payment can occur in a single workstream. 

Treasury professionals, app developers, card users, and suppliers all appreciate the opportunities that embedded payments make possible. This sleek new way to work helps companies to:

  • Save time for employees and suppliers
  • Streamline your workflows
  • Improve your user experiences

Maximize your technology investment

Embedded payments also maximize corporate investments in core technologies like the ERP system. Employee satisfaction increases because you can complete an entire task without logging in and out, or copying and pasting information between solutions.

APIs from banks, card issuers, and other technology companies provide “plug and play” connections to virtual card systems. This makes development faster and less expensive for the IT team. In fact, many leading vendors now develop embedded payment options proactively because this innovative functionality boosts their competitive edge in the market. 

Three opportunities for seamless virtual card payments

Here are three places where embedded payments will improve the virtual card experience. Expect to see even more options in the coming months, as demand grows and the market matures.

  1. Corporate procurement. Virtual card payments are already a staple of corporate procurement. Businesses made $228 billion in virtual payments in 2020; analysts expect that value to more than double by 2024.

    Now, embedded payments let purchasing or accounts payable staff attach a virtual card number to a purchase order or invoice when they approve an order. It’s as simple as clicking a button to activate a real-time connection to the card system and retrieve the virtual card number.
  2. Meetings and events. Hosting corporate events—whether in-person or virtual — means working with a number of vendors and managing complicated budgets, deadlines, and logistics. The software designed to coordinate these conferences will soon include embedded virtual card payments. With point-and-click simplicity, users then attach virtual card numbers to pay for facility rentals, catering, audio visual support, and numerous other event expenses. 

    Best of all, the business rules, limits, and authorizations built into the event software will govern the embedded payments, delivering optimal control and security.
  3. Card as a Service (CaaS). The APIs that power embedded payments are extremely versatile, which gives developers the flexibility to insert virtual cards into an almost unlimited number of applications. Expect companies to leverage embedded payments in their proprietary systems and online workflows. They’re ideal for any solution that can benefit from secure and efficient card payments. 

A handful of leading card issuers now offer developer APIs and embedded payment solutions. Talk to your account manager for more information and about how embedded virtual card payments can help you grow your card program.

More topics