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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Bank of America awarded patent for corporate card technology

Bank of America has been granted a patent for a new application that will enable clients to manage the available funds on corporate purchasing cards in real time.

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Banking like a customer at Bank of America

Bank of America have done well to emulate their customer's actions automatically.

I've been only transfering the amount I wish to pay into my special travel and  'internet only' Visa Debit corporate account card due to concern about card security. I know others who do the same. Automating the process makes it easier for corporations to alter their behaviour because of poor card security and fraud, but not alter it so much that they switch to Debit cards. Not quite the answer to the root problem but it does make it easier to protect yourself from the problem they created. Certainly it's better than nothing.

Doesn't it sound a lot like a 'credit' debit card with the logon thingy and charge it up to a value?

- No it's a rechargeable credit card with zero credit until you 'charge it' with a limit. 

Maybe it's a personalised company 'e-cheque' in disguise, only you can't recognise it because it always has the same serial number?

- No because it's got a 'fuzzy' name written on it - it can only be used by 'certain' merchants. 

Not quite sure how they got a patent for it though. Can you patent a debit card dressed up as a credit card vice-versa? Hey there's an idea for Visa to get rid of the D word - the 'Visa Versa - the credit card without credit '©DeanProcter (or Debit). Is it already patented by BoA?

Perhaps I'll peruse the patent in case, it looks like that's it anyway. Skip boring techno-marketing jargon, the patent examiner lucked out that day. I'm not a patent attorney so I'll probably completely  misinterprete it in the name of free expression...

The patent sort of describes logging on to a webpage through a proxy and connecting to a card provider, and putting an amount in - you just happen to be doing it through an action in their purchasing suite simultaneously, and checking the limit. There are a bunch of great marketing words in the patent. Can we guess where the idea came from?-

"Velocity is an availability control for throttling spending.
Velocity is described in dollars and numbers of transactions
and can be specified by time period or aggregated over the
life of the card. Velocity controls authorizations.

A typical purchasing card has nine “slots” (MCC Groups)
for unique configuration. Slot applicability is governed by
SICs......Velocity settings can be made at the
slot level as well as at the card level."       

[Who's had the flying lessons? Moving words though, I'm for full 'velocity' in the 'slot', just not mine.]

I think they also enable restrictions as to the type or group of merchant who can receive payment. They go on to describe how a card processor works. Hey - someone has to do it.

Have we come to the point where we have to specify the merchants who are allowed to accept our credit card? Where did that that e-cheque go?

Part of the 'thrill' of buying things for the corporation is the purchasing 'power'. Most employees probably enjoy spending the company's money at every opportunity, almost as much as my wife does spending mine. If you are going to let them do it then try to allow them to enjoy it as much as possible, and put controls in place to empower them within limits.

My approach might be...(deleted after advice from patent attorney)...and notify someone up the food chain. ,,Oh well.

Bank of America are doing some other promising things and they're on the money with integrated business process services - but this example is not addressing the heart of the problem so you don't go to the top of the class just yet.


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