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Discovery Bank introduces virtual card, contactless payment

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 26 Nov 2020

Discovery Bank has become the latest financial institution to introduce a virtual bank card to offer clients additional levels of safety and convenience when transacting.

The bank’s latest offering comes on the back of increasing demand for online and contactless payments in recent months, with many people opting out of making cash payments or using touch point-of-sale machines, amid fears of the spread of COVID-19.

The new bank card was launched simultaneously with a contactless payment service, Discovery Pay, which allows Discovery Bank clients to make payments without the need for banking details. They can make payments to any of their smartphone contacts who are active on the Vitality programme, which has over one million members.

According to Discovery Bank, the new offerings are part of its strategy to offer clients more convenient, innovative and secure ways to make payments, in the wake of the rise in massive data breaches and e-commerce growth.

Because it’s possible to have more than one virtual card, clients can select the types of transactions they want to use each card for. This lowers the risk of their bank card being compromised.

Discovery Bank says its clients can also add as many virtual cards as they need – at no additional cost.

“By using both a physical card and a virtual card for different transactions, our clients have the ability to elevate the security on their banking transactions and protect themselves against potential fraud,” says Akash Dowra, head of client insights at Discovery Bank.

“With this new capability, our clients will never be left stranded without a card. It’s stored safely in the Discovery Bank app. Furthermore, when the card expires, it will be replaced automatically and we will carry across any regular payments to the new card.”

The card guarantees that no one will be able to skim a client’s card to steal their card details. The added protection comes from every virtual card having its own unique card number, expiry date and card verification value. This means owners no longer have to worry about not having their card on hand when making purchases.

If customers use their virtual card exclusively for online payments, they are able to reduce their physical card’s online purchase limit to zero for additional security.

The digital-only bank’s shared-value banking model is premised on individual financial behaviours to understand how financially healthy clients are and, in turn, rewards them for every step they take to adopt financial behaviours that improve the way they manage their money.

In September, the digital newcomer announced it had garnered almost 500 000 clients since launching in March 2019.

The new Discovery Pay service allows customers to make payments to stored contacts in a few clicks.

“Discovery Bank clients can send money seamlessly to a Vitality client from their banking app if they have the cellphone number saved in their contact list. We’ll then securely deposit the funds into the existing linked and verified bank account for the Vitality client, which means it is not necessary to share any banking details over e-mail or in other correspondence,” explains Dowra.

In recent weeks, SA has seen a growing list of financial services institutions introducing virtual bank cards for individual and business customers, with one of the key benefits being the high-tech security. Capitec, First National Bank, MasterCard and Standard Bank are among the organisations that have rolled out virtual bank cards as part of their payments ecosystem.