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Payment Card Business Still Offers Variety of Opportunities for Growth

The future of cards is still bright, but the sky's the limit on just what form card payments will take.

The idea of card payments beyond a card has already taken a strong hold in the commercial card side. A new category in the commercial card space, for instance, is called "centralized procurement settlement vehicles," says JPMorgan Chase's Dombroski. "This is not traditional plastic but a digital number that rides the Visa and MasterCard settlement rails to bring efficiency to central processing and purchasing operations," he explains.

To this end, JPMorgan Chase offers a product called ExacTrac. The technology generates a virtual single-use card number, so no physical cards are involved in the transaction, according to Dombroski. ExacTrac is integrated with buyers' procurement systems, such as those by SAP or Oracle, he relates. The bank develops a real-time or batch interface for clients. When they place an order, rather than going to the supplier, the order goes to JPMorgan Chase's systems, where that particular purchase is assigned a unique card number.

Dombroski says that this single-use number enables clients to gain better control and insight into their purchases to help with reconciliation and fraud control. The solution was built in-house and has been on the market for approximately 10 months, he relates. Card transactions that go beyond a physical card "is where the market will grow over the next 10 years," Dombroski states.

SunTrust's Hammermaster concurs. "Over the past couple of years, we moved beyond what we typically think of cards -- something physical," he says. "Now we're seeing more virtual card use, where you're able to create virtual, one-time-use card numbers." SunTrust does, in fact, offer such a product. A virtual account number is generated that remains inactive until the client tells the bank it wishes to perform a transaction worth a specific dollar amount. SunTrust sends an automated E-mail to the client's supplier telling it that so much money has been assigned to invoice X and that it has 24 hours to take that money.

"This isn't necessarily about inventing new technology," Hammermaster states. "We're using existing technology platforms, such as E-mail and the card networks, in innovative ways. This is a new way for cards to remain relevant in the payments mix."

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