Virtual Credit Cards Open Up a New Era of E-Payment with a Multitude of Benefits


6 min read

In the "one person, one mobile phone" generation, digitalisation is an unavoidable trend. Be it the membership cards of luxury brands or groceries, e-identities for health-related registration, different kinds of communication software/apps, or even e-payment fuelled by the Consumer Voucher Scheme via Octopus cards or online payment platforms...Basically, all can be done through mobile phones. We are now just a stone's throw away from the cashless generation, and physical wallets may soon be completely replaced by mobile phones.

Virtual Credit Cards are Inevitable

Although credit cards are still an essential part of every wallet, they are probably used virtually (online) more often than physically in our everyday life. More and more brick-and-mortar stores are equipped with advanced devices and systems to handle all kinds of e-payments. Under this trend, the virtualisation of credit cards is inevitable, especially since the Apple Card has been launched in the United States and that the "Apple Card" trademark has allegedly been registered in Hong Kong. Although the Apple Card is available in both virtual and physical versions, many industry insiders envision that, just as the debut of the iPhone disrupted and reformed the mobile phone market, the Apple Card will be able to officially usher in an era of virtual credit cards.

Virtual Credit Cards VS Physical Credit Cards

The so-called "virtual credit card" is in fact completely digitalised without a physical body, and most of them are loaded into the e-wallet on mobile phones for daily usage through dedicated mobile apps. Except for the fact that there’s not a physical card, virtual credit cards are basically more or less the same in terms of cash rebates, offers and rewards, as well as billing methods. As a matter of fact, the mobile apps for virtual credit cards can actually provide services even more comprehensive and convenient than the e-banking services of the physical ones.

Virtual Credit Cards VS Physical Credit Cards

Online Spending

Both are possible

Brick-and-mortar Shop Spending

Both can be used with contactless card readers.

But only physical credit cards can be used with magnetic stripe card readers.

How to Apply

Both can be applied for online.

Physical credit cards can also be applied for at branch offices.

Level of Security

Virtual credit cards can be guarded by network security.

Physical credit cards are not protected in case of theft or loss.

Cash Rebates and Benefits

Both are available with similar offers.

Account Management

Virtual credit cards are easier to use with other e-tools for account management.

Virtual credit cards’ Many Virtues

Since virtual credit cards serve similar purposes as the physical ones, why not continue to use only physical credit cards and their online services? Why use a virtual credit card?

This is because while there are limitations and drawbacks to using a physical credit card, virtual credit cards are also advantageous in the below two areas.

Level of Security

Using a physical credit card is inherently risky. In Hong Kong, due to the universality and frequency of credit card usage, most shops do not strictly verify the signatures when using a physical credit card for payment. What’s more, payment by pay wave / contactless card reader does not even require a signature. In other words, if a physical credit card is stolen or lost, a non-credit card owner can easily deploy it to make purchases. Any dishonest staff or unscrupulous personnel can readily use the credit card to make a purchase online if they so wish, simply by the name, card number, expiration date and security code laid bare on the physical credit card.

Conversely, in virtual credit card transactions, all credit card information is stored only in the card owner's mobile phone, which is usually secured with biometric locks or encoded with passwords, it is thus not as easy to leak personal information during the transaction process, and it is more difficult for fraudulent usage as such. In addition, if a virtual credit card is stolen, it is also easier to report the theft and deactivate the card than a physical one.

Level of Convenience

Virtual credit cards are more convenient to use than physical credit cards in several ways.

Firstly, although applications for both types of credit cards can be processed online, virtual credit cards are definitely faster in terms of issuance and replacement, and can be used as soon as they are approved, whereas the delivery of physical ones can take several days.

Secondly, in the wake of the proliferation of e-payments, wallets have since been simpler, thinner and smaller. Carrying a "giant stack" of credit cards in a wallet or card holder are now a thing of the past. Instead, no matter what kind of purchase is made, all you have to do is tap on your mobile phone, then all forms of e-payment can be done in a few clicks-simple, swift and stylish.

Furthermore, the rise of virtual banking will virtualise all financial management sooner or later. Just as a few decades ago, people might be happy to go to the bank and pick up their very own bank book / pass book / cheque book-holding it in their hands is like holding a physical credit card today. However, times have changed. The decline of the bank book and the growing popularity of online banking are signs that the virtualisation of credit cards is well on its way.

Virtual Credit Cards in Hong Kong

At present, virtual credit cards are not yet prevalent in Hong Kong. "CNCB International’s inMotion Virtual Credit Card" and the “ICBC UnionPay Dual Currency Virtual Digital Credit Card for Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau and Bay Area" are probably the first to enter the market. Many traditional banking leaders and even emerging virtual banks bide their time whilst eager to join in anytime.

The Reap Card is an extremely convenient option for consumers who prefer e-payment or for small and medium-sized business owners, especially those who run an online business and those who want to be the first to catch up with the virtual credit card trend. The Reap Card is a corporate credit card with both physical and virtual modes, revolutionising the way companies manage their finances. The Reap Card can be used as a corporate credit card for different employees to make online payments with different limits, saving time and sparing the trouble to "claim money" afterwards. The Reap Card can also automatically generate expense reports, allowing different spending to be seen at a glance. Moreover, when used in conjunction with other business financial management solutions such as Reap Pay and Reap Collect, the one-stop online financial management service enables users to properly and clearly manage their income and expenses, enjoying additional cash rebates all at once.

While the epidemic isn’t going away anytime soon, if you can easily manage your company's finances staying at home, success is definitely within reach. Embrace the virtualisation of your finances, and enjoy the actualisation of more and more profits.