SafPay has released Virtucard, a cash-based virtual mall card that gives online merchants a more secure and cost-effective online payment alternative to credit cards.
Unlike credit card merchant accounts, Virtucard eliminates charge-backs and guarantees all funds to the merchant while providing a safer and more private shopping experience for the consumer. Consumers can shop anonymously at Virtucard merchant stores, as if they were using cash, and prevent personally identifiable information from being disclosed. The benefits to the merchant are significant.
Consumers fund their free Virtucard account for up to $1,000.00 directly through their bank's online bill payment system as if they were paying a bill. The bank's trusted third-party processors handle the transactions, which means neither SafPay nor the merchant have access to the consumer's checking account information. As a result, merchants are free from the added risk of handling sensitive financial information and the consumer's financial assets are not at risk when they shop online using their Virtucard.
That reduced risk translates into significant savings and benefits for the merchant in the form of lower fees, daily deposits and the elimination of charge-backs or the need for rolling cash reserves. In addition, Virtucard merchants are not subject to the extensive and often severe compliance measures, such as PCI, that face online credit card merchants because consumer financial information is not at risk. The lack of additional transaction fees also means that merchants can now accept micro-payments that have been previously too cost-prohibitive to accept with a credit card merchant account.
Online merchants will find it easier to get a Virtucard merchant account than an online credit card merchant account as well. Businesses considered "high-risk" by credit card processors are not classified as such by SafPay Inc. which openly welcomes such businesses. "We just don't have the same fraud or risk potential that you have when you accept credit cards online. I personally know of many merchants who can't get merchant accounts and are forced to go offshore because credit card processors consider their business too risky. When you take a physical payment product like a credit card and try to make it work online, you run into all kinds of problems. That's why we developed Virtucard," says SafPay Inc. CEO and founder George Ouzts.
Virtucard was released to select merchants in November 2008. When asked how it was received, Ouzts said, "We specifically targeted merchants who were considered 'high-risk' by credit card processors as early adopters. They enthusiastically embraced Virtucard because it was a win-win for them and their customers." In fact, the company's internal survey results support that claim showing very high satisfaction levels with all aspects of the service.
Early adoption statistics show that Virtucard consumers spend more and spend more often than with credit cards when shopping online--perhaps because they feel more comfortable with the shopping experience.
Virtucard is available for U.S. merchants and customers. Developments are under way to expand Virtucard internationally.