If you were wondering how Standard Bank’s recent move into the realm of virtual card payments has gone, the financial institution has provided an update of sorts.

Nine months on from launching the service, the firm says virtual card payments have increased by 300 percent, although the initial going proved a tad slow. The value of such a solution is being seen, however, with Standard Bank noting that more customers are using virtual cards to shop online and interact with mobile apps sans a physical debit or credit card.

“The adoption of virtual card technology is playing its part in changing the thinking about online shopping. Convenience and safety considerations are re-shaping the way consumers choose to transact, and Standard Bank is excited about the role it is playing in the digital and experience economies,” explains Gwenael Trotel, Standard Bank’s head of consumer solutions and digital cards.

The institution is also confident that the use of virtual cards is going to continue to rise. Currently it estimates that spending here totals about 2 percent of all retail spend in SA, but as this is predicted to rise in future, as is the use of virtual cards.

“Standard Bank has noted interesting usage trends when it comes to online shopping. Consumers are increasingly using ride hailing services as well as purchasing online vouchers with the likes of Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Travel spend, which includes online airline and hotel bookings, has also seen a healthy increase. Online retail shopping, while still lagging some of the big ticket virtual card spending items, is also showing a healthy usage increase amongst customers,” the institution points out.

“These insights are what led to the bank entering into partnerships with the likes of Uber, Travelstart, Zando, Admyt and Takealot, along with a generic virtual card. Consumers are also making use of these partner cards to save money on a weekly or monthly basis until such a time they can afford to make a purchase of their choice,” it continues.

The virtual card trend is also seemingly being adopted by parents for their children, Standard Bank adds, with it providing a better avenue to monitor and control spending on school and varsity essentials like textbooks.

“Increased adoption of virtual cards is really driven by a few key factors. Virtual cards allow consumers to be part of the virtual economy without having access to the traditional mode of purchase, namely a credit card. Cards are created on the Standard Bank mobile banking App and loaded with funds as and when needed. For those ultra-security conscious consumers, it adds an extra layer of security in that funds can be loaded for the exact amount required to purchase,” adds Trotel.

For those interested in the Standard Bank virtual card solution, the institution has made it available for sign-up via its mobile app, with a current choice of six different card options to use at all ecommerce retailers and five partners: Uber, Travelstart, Zando, Admyt and Takealot.