GE's Corporate Payment Services unit has secured a U.S. patent covering aspects of the account pool feature of its vPayment electronic settlement tool.
It is the third and latest patent associated with vPayment, a payment automation tool that integrates with corporate procurement and Accounts Payable (AP) systems and processes.
"vPayment is a supplier-friendly way to reduce your organization's dependence on the time-consuming check writing process. It offers the controls of a check, the float of a purchasing card, and the efficiency of electronic funds transfer," said Jeffery R. Dye, president and CEO of Corporate Payment Services, the commercial card unit of GE Consumer Finance. "The account pool patent further strengthens vPayment's advantages for organizations looking for added control and efficiency."
When an organization requests a vPayment account to pay an invoice or purchase order, the newly patented technology (U.S. Patent Serial number 6,901,387) comes into play. The GE-hosted vPayment server selects a unique account number from an account pool and provides it to the organization, via a secure web site or encrypted link to the organization's procurement or AP system.
The account number selected has dollar and date-range controls specific to the transaction in question. The supplier given the vPayment account number cannot subsequently charge to the account once the specified amount is settled. If the merchant attempts to charge above the dollar amount or beyond the date range specified, the transaction is declined.
When fully used, the account number returns to the account pool and remains inactive until selected at a later date, usually for a different amount with a different supplier.
vPayment also captures a unique identifier, such as purchase order or invoice number, in the MasterCard transaction record. This unique identifier links the transaction to the purchasing information without manual intervention. In effect, vPayment transactions flow to an organization's general ledger "hands free." vPayment passes unique accounting information regardless of the merchant's data capture capability (Level 1, 2 or 3).
"Organizations and suppliers alike can benefit from vPayment," Dye said. "Unlike electronic funds transfer (EFT), merchants need no special training or set-up and can follow the standard credit card process to receive payment. Organizations enjoy improved controllership, automated reconciliation, reduced administration, and better cash flow."
Other features and benefits include:
- Accepted at millions of MasterCard merchants
- vPayment accounts use no physical plastic for increased controllership
- Exception reporting