Customising a payment card is not just about pretty pictures and a special name. Although these aesthetics add to the recognition of the bearer, it is the controls set within the card that really differentiate it from the bog standard pieces of plastic crammed in a wallet.
“Consumer empowerment is a rare innovation and allows the cardholder to make decisions and set controls for payment cards to help them feel safer when using it,” said David Chan, Southeast and South Asia head of customer delivery at MasterCard.
Chan referred to a study conducted in the 1980s which showed that residents of a nursing home who enjoyed greater control over their own lives lived longer than those who did not. The relevance of the study, according to Chan, is that empowerment in the payments industry can reduce and perhaps prevent fraud while at the same time encourage loyalty towards certain payments products. In other words, a customer in control is a happier and more loyal customer.
For a company that offers corporate cards to its employees, MasterCard’s inControl product can be the answer to the endless taxi receipts and expense bills that arrive at the accounts department at the end of each month.
“MasterCard inControl is a powerful tool that enables cardholders to safely and securely transact and track their expenses,” Chan explained.
Companies can set a number of controls through MasterCard’s inControl before issuing a corporate card to an employee who travels or accumulates a lot of expenses frequently. These “innovative pillars” are account controls, velocity and virtual cards.
“Account controls provide the ability to set restrictions around spending based on merchant categories,” said Chan. Restaurants and taxis are examples of merchant categories. This pillar limits what the cardholder is permitted to use the corporate card for.
The second pillar, velocity, controls how often and when the card can be used. There are budgetary controls that include total spend, transaction limits, transaction curfews and geographic controls. This ensures that employees cannot use the corporate card while on holiday or when buying a cheeky pint on a Saturday night.
The virtual card provides the cardholder with a one-time or limited-use card number for purchases online, which is especially useful for flight or hotel bookings. “I work in the industry and I feel very unsafe sometimes when I type my card digits for an online payment,” said Chan.
Empowering a company to empower its employees is an important development in the payments card industry. Not only do these cards automate tedious expense processes, but they set virtual parameters for employees, who might think twice before expensing the next ambiguous bill on a corporate card.