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Virtual card use to surge by 2025

A report by Juniper Research predicts that virtual card use will more than triple to more than $5 trillion in transaction value by the year 2025, as the centralized digital payment method branches out beyond corporate travel into other use cases.

Virtual cards use temporary, randomly generated card numbers for specific online transactions and allow purchases to be made without exposing a user's specific payment card details.

"The primary benefit of virtual cards is security," Juniper analyst James Moar told Mobile Payments Today via email. "Having a temporary, merchant locked or limited duration virtual card means that even if the card details are stolen, they are very likely to be useless. Many virtual cards are single use, and even those that are not have features that severely hamper fraudulent usage."

About 80% of virtual card use is expected to come from B2B use, and the COVID-19 related deployment of remote corporate work has led to increased use of virtual cards. The report forecasts a 4% reduction in corporate spending levels on virtual cards in 2020, mainly due to the massive decline in corporate travel, but actual number of transactions will be up 11%.

Consumer use of virtual cards will remain relatively limited, despite the use in mobile wallet products like Apple Card, the mobile credit card from Apple and Goldman Sachs. The report said that less than 20% of consumers making online purchases will use virtual cards.