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News Analysis: Airtel Money Launches Virtual Card Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
In co-operation with Mastercard and Standard Chartered Bank, Airtel have launched ‘the world’s first virtual card’, functioning as a virtual Mastercard number that is linked to the Airtel Money mobile wallet. Called Under this ‘PayOnline’ service, Airtel Money will generate a 16-digit virtual card number with an expiry date and CVV security code issued against funds in the customer’s Airtel account, i.e. this is a debit card solution. The card is currently being rolled out in Kenya – clearly still the frontrunner in mobile payment solutions in Africa - and other key African countries will follow.

Perspectives

This new offer will allow Airtel Money subscribers to participate in global e-commerce - in fact, the press release emphasizes that it is only for purchases from non-Kenyan websites -, but amounts are capped at KES35,000 per transaction and KES70,000 per day, so this will not be useful to make larger purchases as e.g. international long-haul air tickets.

And the ‘first virtual card’ concept is not entirely a first: Since February 2011, Safaricom’s M-PESA mobile money offers a similar service in a co-operation with Visa and I&M Bank: clients can transfer funds from their M-PESA account to their Visa ‘Safari Card’ that can equally be used for online shopping. And while Airtel’s PayOnline only issues a virtual card, i.e. just the card number, Safari card users have a physical card. In addition to e-commerce payments, they can also use it for purchases in shops and make withdrawals from around 1.6m Visa branded ATMs around the world. Access is easy: The card is available from Safaricom outlets and I&M Bank branches and needs to be activated through the I&M Bank website.

Airtel still playing catch up?


See Airtel press release: Kenya: Press Releases: Airtel, Standard Chartered, MasterCard Roll out Virtual Card on Mobile Phone



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