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Everything you want to know about… Virtual (digital-only) prepaid cards for business

Online shopping has been on the rise for some time now, and the pandemic has only increased its popularity. Many consumers have now started to shop online for the first time, and safe digital payment methods are needed even more. One such innovation is prepaid virtual cards. In this blog post, we look in more detail at virtual cards and how they work.

What are virtual (digital) cards?

A virtual, or digital card is an online hosted, digital virtual representation of any plastic card. A digital card, unlike a plastic card, doesn’t require any physical representation. Like a traditional credit, debit, or prepaid card, a virtual card allows users to purchase services or goods online.

An advantage of using virtual cards for your business is that the cardholder can use their card immediately. No need to wait for a traditional card to be sent in the mail. As soon as the card is created and funds loaded, the user will receive an email with instructions on retrieving their new card details.

The benefits of virtual cards

Virtual cards have great applications for business with total versatility to be used for a wide range of purposes. They can be used for purchasing items online, offering incentives to staff and clients, managing expenses, the list goes on.

If your business makes a large number of online payments, for example paying for travel, using a prepaid virtual card is a fantastic way to make sure payments remain secure and expenses are within budget. B4B Payments offer prepaid virtual cards that make business payments simple. Virtual cards can be generated instantly via our online managerial platform – the cardholder can then use it immediately rather than needing to wait for a physical card to be sent through the post.

How does a virtual (digital) card work?

Your virtual prepaid Mastercard® or Visa® is a reloadable, online e-money card consisting of a standard card number, expiry date and CVV number, which you can retrieve at any time by choosing ‘Display Card Image’ from the B4B cardholder dashboard.

You can use your virtual card details to make purchases online or over the phone at millions of businesses and retailers anywhere in the world. You cannot use your virtual card details to make in-person payments in a shop.

Can virtual cards be used in my digital wallet?

Not yet. B4B Payments are currently working to provide clients and cardholders access to prepaid cards using digital wallet devices, such as GooglePay and ApplePay services.

Are virtual cards safe?

Yes. Just like a physical card, you must keep your virtual card details safe and secret. However, with a few clicks, cardholders can suspend their account.

If you’re a B4B cardholder, and have any questions, please contact our customer service team directly.

Virtual cards in the future

With online shopping increasing and the use of cash declining, it seems that the presence of prepaid virtual cards will only continue to grow. It’s easy to see why – the advantages of virtual cards both for online shopping and business payments lie in their security and accessibility.

If your organisation could benefit from increased security when you make payments online, B4B Payments can help with virtual cards for businesses. Our efficient system allows you to set up and close down cards quickly and easily, causing minimal disruption to your operations. For more information about our services please get in touch.

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Closed loop and open loop prepaid cards

There’s no question that prepaid cards are becoming more commonplace, especially as the use of cash declines. Prepaid gift cards are now seen more frequently in stores than the traditional paper gift voucher, and prepaid cards are also a useful way of helping people to budget. In addition, with online shopping on the rise, prepaid cards are very popular in the form of virtual or digital cards.

Closed loop and open loop

There are two main types of prepaid card available – closed loop and open loop. So what’s the difference between the two and what are the benefits? When you think of a gift card for a particular store, what you’re actually thinking of is a closed-loop card. This type of prepaid card is designed to only be used at that store and cannot be accepted for payments elsewhere.

On the other hand, an open-loop card is not tied to a particular store or brand. These cards are usually identified by a Visa or Mastercard logo and can be used anywhere that accepts card payments. Open-loop cards are typically loaded with cash in specific increments and are often used to help with budgeting. This type of card is also frequently sold to travellers as a more convenient and secure way of taking currency abroad, or for making card payments in other countries without incurring hefty fees.

Solutions for businesses

Both closed-loop and open-loop cards have useful applications for businesses. When it comes to employee incentives and rewards, both types of prepaid card are great options. A closed-loop card for a designated store can be a really personal way to reward a particular employee, gifting them something you know they’ll genuinely appreciate.

Alternatively, an open-loop card makes your employees’ rewards work for them – handy if you’re buying cards in bulk or you want to give flexible rewards and incentives. B4B Payments offer prepaid cards that you can adapt to your needs, and which ensure every employee gets a perk they love.

Open-loop cards are also a fantastic solution for business expenses; they eliminate the need for employees to use their own personal finances. Open-loop prepaid cards allow employees to spend money wherever they choose but make it easier to stick to a budget. A prepaid business card from B4B Payments also makes it simple to manage expenses and receipts – you can track all expenses through our secure platform and receive comprehensive reports on expenditure.

Prepaid cards in the future

It seems clear that the use of prepaid cards, both closed loop and open loop, is likely to continue rising. If you’re looking for a smart solution to rewards, expenses, and business payments, the flexible payment solutions from B4B Payments could be the answer. Our products allow you to track and manage expenditure, whilst giving freedom and flexibility to employees. If you’re interested in streamlining payments and incentives with prepaid cards and would like more information, get in touch

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A new study finds that loyalty programmes are an important factor for customers

Every business knows that customer loyalty is one of the most important factors of any successful business. No matter the product or service you offer, keeping your clients happy is the best way to ensure that they will remain loyal to you for years to come.

When it comes to finding new customers and keeping loyal clients happy, a new study1 has revealed that loyalty programmes are an important factor when it comes to making purchasing decisions. In fact, an astonishing 86% of respondents said that loyalty programmes play a big role in their buying decisions.

This study also highlighted that there is a continued want for instant payment methods as well as a growing preference for loyalty programmes. Here are some of the top findings from the report.

Top findings and trends

One of the most interesting findings of this study is that contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular. The study also found that payment apps and mobile wallets have been rising in popularity. Here are some of the key statistics:

Over 50% of consumers in the UK say that at least 75% of their payments are made through contactless.

The use of virtual and digital cards continues to rise in popularity, with more than 50% of participants saying that they have used this sort of technology in the last 6 months.

The study also highlighted how, nowadays, more people care about rewards and instant payments.

52% of respondents favour receiving a virtual card to a physical one delivered to their home.
40% of participants favour receiving instant payments.
56% would opt for a virtual pre-paid card over a physical card.

Finally, the study has highlighted that there are huge benefits to giving customers prepaid cards that offer incentives and rewards (such as loyalty programmes).

Consumers in the study overwhelmingly preferred getting a prepaid card that can be used anywhere to convert loyalty points to payments over receiving a specific gift card for a retailer.

What does this mean for my business?

The study conducted highlights how important loyalty programmes are when it comes to enticing customers to make purchases and continue as loyal customers for your business.

Moreover, the study also shows that customers are starting to use contactless and virtual payments more frequently (and are preferring to pay like this).

Data like this, demonstrates how important it is that your business moves with the times and, if you want new customers and want to keep your current customers loyal, one of the best ways to do this is to offer loyalty programs using prepaid cards.

How do I get this technology?

One of the best ways to simplify your business payments and offer incentives to employees and regular customers is to use B4B payments. Go cashless! Manage your business expenses and loyalty programmes on your company’s prepaid cards. Contact them directly today to learn more about how they can help you grow your business.

1Study conducted by Syncapay

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It is time to move on from petty cash

The petty cash box used to be an essential part of an office environment. A shared box of money that can be used for employees to make payments for small company-related expenses; it sounds fine, right? Simple enough. Addresses a need. Wrong! Petty cash is an antiquated headache, and now is the perfect time to go cashless, by exchanging your petty cash box for a smarter way to make payouts.

Why is petty cash so problematic?

Petty cash has significant security risks

So why move on from a physical petty cash box? There are many reasons, but the most pressing is the security risks associated with it. It is all too easy for a thief to take money from the petty cash box, or steal the box itself. Depending on how much money you keep there, it could be quite a blow to your ability to provide employee incentives such as that Friday team breakfast paid for from the petty cash box.

It’s hard to keep track of petty cash

Another reason to trade in the old petty cash box is that it is very difficult to keep an accurate record of the incoming and outgoing cash, and what each withdrawal is for. Keeping on top of this requires a high level of detail, but is often nobody’s official “job”, which results in wasted employee time and often inaccurate accounts.

Okay, petty cash is dead. What’s the alternative?

There is a way to move on from the petty cash box seamlessly, while still providing employees with a way to use company money for those small expenses. A prepaid virtual card is a perfect way to create an easily traceable and audible “petty cash” account that is entirely based on a digital card.

Why are virtual (digital) cards better?

A prepaid digital card is a far more secure way to provide employee incentives. Since the money is all loaded onto a card, it is not easy pickings for thieves; it is both harder to steal and easier to keep safe. It can simply be kept in a secure place by a team leader, or in a locked drawer, but it is not as bulky and visible as a traditional petty cash box.

Your card will allow you to load money on quickly and easily so that you can provide employees with the convenience that they want without having to count every penny when they pay for a working lunch.

Ready to move on and ditch the petty cash box of yesterday? Replace it with prepaid cards for your business payments and enjoy headache-free accounting, improved security, and simplified payments.

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Why clinical research organisations are key to recruiting trial patients

Developing new drugs costs billions of pounds in research and development. Around half of the total cost is spent on clinical trials; they are essential in bringing any new drug to market. Recruiting trial patients and retaining them for the duration of any clinical trial presents a significant challenge for pharmaceutical businesses and creates a critical bottleneck in drug development.

The initial challenge is finding enough patients to generate the high-quality data that regulators require to give a new drug approval, and doctors want to see before they start writing prescriptions. The next challenge is ensuring that enough patients see the trial through to the end.

A growing number of pharmaceutical companies are turning to clinical research organisations (CROs) to help them overcome these barriers and manage the clinical trial process.

Contract research organisations

Contract research organisations (CRO) have benefited greatly from the pressures facing the pharmaceutical industry today. In particular, pharmaceutical companies need to maintain a steady flow of new blockbuster drugs as their existing products become available as generics. While the CRO industry’s growth rate has noticeably slowed since the mid-90s, it retains a growth rate that any other business in the pharmaceutical industry would be envious of.

As the largest pharmaceutical market globally, the US accounts for most of the global CRO market. The US CRO market is worth around $4.2 billion, compared to Europe’s $2.6 billion. However, the growth rate in the European market has outstripped that of the US for some time. Most analysts agree that this growth rate is attributable to Eastern Europe, which is an attractive investment target for pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Clinical research organisations

Competition in the European clinical research market has continued to increase in tandem with the growth rate. As competition heats up, CROs are increasingly looking for ways to expand their services and entry into new markets.

But while many of them have operated commercial services in developing regions, their experience doesn’t necessarily extend to actively participating in running clinical trials. As a result, there are significant benefits to partnering with CROs who have international and regional experience.

Going global

CROs that operate internationally rapidly gain experience with different regulatory frameworks and types of products. This experience is invaluable to pharmaceutical companies. By partnering with international CROs that can operate in multiple regions, pharma businesses can streamline their clinical trial processes. As these CROs grow and gain experience, their value increases, as does the range of benefits they offer to their partners.

Incentivising patients

Businesses like B4B have an important role to play in helping pharmaceutical businesses to streamline their spending and offer rewards and incentives to trial patients when operating internationally. Trial patients need incentivising to sign up for clinical trials and see them through until the end. B4B supplies prepaid cards that businesses can use to distribute funds and cover their expenses. The easier it is for drug companies to get money to trial patients and other businesses, the smoother their clinical trial processes will be.

Pharmaceutical businesses need to work with a range of other businesses and organisations to keep their clinical trials running smoothly. CROs are already playing a vital role in trial patient recruitment and retention; they are likely to become even more important in the future.


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Virtual cards and the perks for gamification

Encouraging employees to give their all to a special project or just their daily workflow can be tough. This is especially true in the current climate, when many employees are working out of their own homes and often feel more than a little removed from the office culture that their company has worked so hard to cultivate.

However, there are ways to encourage employees to put in their best work without resorting to tighter restrictions and deadlines. In fact, you will be rewarding them while they work harder than ever.

If you have been using gamification to encourage your employees, you can now give them a great gift to spur them on even more.

Gamification and employee engagement

Studies have shown that gamification is an excellent way to get employees fully engaged with the systems and processes involved with their work, and can encourage them to give more than ever before to their job.

By turning work into a game, you will know that your own employees feel more excited about reaching certain goals and milestones. But what about when they have achieved a certain quota or finished a project? Is it enough to simply say well done, or to give them a store card?
We think there is a better way to reward your employees!

Why choose prepaid digital cards?

A prepaid digital card gives your employees cashback, rather than a card they will need to spend in a specific store, or the promise of a team meal sometime in the future. While large financial bonuses are not always appropriate or possible in the workplace, these cards are suitable for both big and smaller wins.

It is no secret that during this current time, people need more encouragement and engagement than ever, but that can feel challenging at the best of times. With a prepaid digital gift card, there are so many perks on offer, including:

  • Being able to make the amount appropriate to the project/event
  • Showing your employees you value and trust them
  • Celebrating not just yearly achievements but smaller wins
  • Not having to worry about the gift being appropriate for the person
  • Giving a diverse reward that anyone can enjoy
  • Having a reward that is suitable for employees at all levels
  • Providing a gift that is suitable for lockdowns or more free times
  • Upping engagement in a simple step
  • Reminding employees that they are still part of a company culture
  • Showing that gamification is not just about fun, but getting a great “prize”
  • The happiness project

You will find, through the use of prepaid gift cards, that your employees are more involved in the gamification of systems and processes than ever. Not only that, but you can reward them for getting through a difficult year, and encourage them to do their best in whatever comes next. It’s a real win-win situation!

If you are an employer who knows the value of gamification in the workplace, then you will want to introduce this great “prize” for your employees to work towards. It really is the best choice for making them feel valued, happy, and eager to work hard.


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Why a virtual card is the perfect employee gift

Over the past year, both employers and employees have worked tirelessly to adapt to the “new normal”. While the last twelve months have not been without significant challenges, those who have seen it through and worked hard deserve some kind of reward for their commitment.

If you are an employer who has seen your employees go above and beyond during the pandemic, you will want to give back. However, in 2021 this may not be possible – many companies have seen financial losses. Not to mention that the traditional team meal cannot go ahead until further notice.

Rather than a salary increase, bonus, or lavish dinner out, you must find another way to say thank you to your employees. And we have found the perfect answer – with a prepaid digital card, you can show your gratitude and give a gift they really want.

Read on to find out what these cards are and the perks of giving them to your employees.


The perfect thank you

Gifting your employees with cashback on a prepaid digital card is the very best way to give them a gift that requires no guesswork. Anyone would be glad to receive this rather than a store-specific card or a physical gift. With these cards, they can spend the money you gift them as they see fit.

Whether just as a thank you for making it through a challenging year, as a replacement for an annual bonus, or as a birthday or Christmas gift, this card will ensure your employees feel valued, with their work being recognised. It can be especially challenging to relay this over Zoom calls and emails, so make sure you say it with a prepaid card.

Improving morale

When you give your employees a little boost with this card, you will see improvements in company morale overall. Even if some employees have been getting frequent praise, there will be a few who feel left out in lockdown. As they have been isolated in their homes, they may feel removed from your company culture.

A little gesture like this is really the best way to remind them that they are still part of a team and cared about no matter where they are.

Beating the lockdown blues

It can be easy to feel a little less than cheerful after a year of lockdowns and being away from friends and family. This pre-paid card is an incredible way to give your employees a little lift in their personal lives as well as at work. Times are tight for everyone, and this could be just what they need.

Reminding your employees that you are thinking of them will encourage them to reach out as and when they need to, and simply help them to feel a little brighter in these trying times.

As you can see, a virtual card really is the best way to keep connected to your employees when providing them with a gift that is also an incentive to keep up their hard work and remain as positive as possible in the current climate.

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Introducing the best consumer incentive

Your customers are the backbone of your organisation. Whatever product or service you offer, reaching the right consumer is vital to your success, and loyal consumers are an important part of that. Getting in new business is great, but those consumers who keep coming back, again and again, are the ones who will be with you for years to come.

So it’s worth asking, do you offer an incentive programme to your consumers? This is an excellent way of encouraging them to either buy a certain product or service, or make a certain amount of purchases.

If you want to discover the best way to provide consumers with the incentives that will keep them excited about your company, read on.

Why use incentives?

Consumer incentives are not essential for the successful running of your organisation – however, it is an added bonus for consumers, and gives them an extra reason to come to you over and above your competition.

No matter how good you are in your own niche, in an often flooded market you can tend to disappear and struggle to beat the competition. The best way to foster long-term success is to create a loyal consumer base who have more than one reason to return to you.

The best incentive

Incentive programmes provide consumers with an extra feeling of being valued, and of getting something they would not otherwise have gained. However, it is important to note that this only works if the incentive is something they truly want.

If you are in the habit of using an incentive such as vouchers for a local restaurant, that might not be the best plan in the current climate. And should you use Amazon gift cards, you may find that some consumers take an ethical stand against larger companies.

Cashback on a prepaid gift card will suit a range of different people with differing tastes – no one will end up with something they cannot use.

Going virtual

Giving your consumers cashback on prepaid cards is great for use in a range of promotions and giveaways, whether it is a regular occurrence or something you only offer rarely.

Because of its broad appeal, it will encourage a wider range of people to become loyal consumers of your product or service, so you can enjoy a strong consumer base going forward.

Virtual gift cards have the added bonus of appealing to an increasingly digital marketplace. Not having to use the cards in a physical store is a bonus for those who do most of their shopping online and still like to use diverse online stories.

Marketing magic

Should you choose to offer this incredible incentive to your consumers, it can fit into whatever existing incentive programme you have currently and strengthen your company branding. However, you can be sure that when you choose a virtual gift card as an incentive, your consumers both old and new will be more likely to promote your organisation for you by word of mouth – and that is untapped marketing potential that money can’t buy!

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Science tech start-ups boosted by EU investment

42 start-ups involved in the science and technology industries are set to receive a welcome investment boost from the EU’s European Innovation Council (EIC) as part of a drive to boost Europe’s international standing in these fields.

The EIC will be investing a hefty €178 million in total, taking stakes of 10% – 25% for each company. This is significant news for anyone with knowledge of the EU’s role in funding ground-breaking science and innovation. Traditionally, the union’s funding bodies such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments have limited their offerings to loans, grants or guarantees rather than direct investments. In other words, they have taken a backseat in deciding how allocated funding is actually invested.
The recent decision to switch to equity investments is borne of the fact that Europe has failed to translate its pioneering scientific endeavours into commercial accomplishments in recent years. Faced with a tough economic environment, start-up companies have been finding it difficult to secure the venture capital needed to grow and thrive.
It is anticipated that the EIC’s direct investments will change this stagnant commercial environment, helping to attract investment and mitigate the risks that inhere within any new business venture.
2021 is a big year for the EIC as Horizon Europe – its billion-euro research programme – gets up and running. As part of the programme, the organisation expects to make more direct investments in promising science and technology firms through to 2027.

How start-ups can secure funding

Start-ups can apply for a simple grant or a blended option of support, grant and equity. It should be noted, however, that while the pool of money available for budding start-ups is generous, the selection process is set to be very competitive.
The first step involves making an initial application to the EIC, who will go on to identify the most promising start-ups from the funding round. CEOs who make it past this initial step will then be invited to an interview panel of six experts in the fields of technology, law and investment.
The panel will pass their recommendations over to the EIC regarding which start-ups are worthy of funding and another panel – this time made up of investment experts – will recommend how much money each of the selected businesses deserve. The EIC will then confirm their decisions based on the advice of experts.
If you’re heading a start-up and are looking to take advantage of the EU’s new investment drive, you should note that the grant process is set to change as Horizon Europe gets up and running. The precise nature of the changes is still being negotiated, but rest assured that the future for promising new scientific ventures is looking bright.

Hit the ground running with B4B Payments

Are you a finance manager involved in a science-based industry such as pharmaceuticals or biotech? Perhaps you’re a start-up looking for ways to streamline your financial transactions with a partnering organisation? Look no further than B4B Payments. We offer companies smart financial solutions for organising payroll, payouts, reimbursements, incentives and more, giving them the tools needed to thrive and grow.

Read more articles on biotech, pharma, and clinical trials.

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B4B Payments announces E-money Institution status in Europe

Continuing to go from strength to strength, B4B celebrates another major achievement this year.

B4B Payments are incredibly pleased to announce their new EMI status and continued expansion into Europe. On the 26th of November 2020, the Board of the Bank of Lithuania issued an electronic money institution license to UAB B4B Payments Europe, the new European branch of the B4B Payments Group. This secures B4B Payments fast access to the financial markets of continental Europe, granting the company the right to provide a range of payment processing services to all EU member states.

“This will ensure that B4B Payments stays Brexit-proof for clients and cardholders no matter what exit deal we end up with” said Paul Swinton, the co-founder and CEO of B4B Payments, continuing “We’re very excited to be expanding with a permanent office in the EU market and at the same time improving the service we offer to our current clients by improving the coverage of B4B’s services. 2020 has been a busy year, and this is a fantastic way to finish it off for us.”

As part of this expansion, B4B Payments are also happy to be welcoming on board a new member to the team: Vladimiras Kolesovas, the new General Manager for Europe, based in Vilnius. With 25 years of experience in the financial sector, including multiple senior positions at SEB and CFO of ConnectPay, Vladimiras is an incredibly valuable addition to the B4B team.

“I’ve joined B4B at a very exciting time as the organisation goes from strength to strength with an expansion into Europe and the USA, as well as other impressive achievements in becoming an E-Money Issuer in the UK and attaining Mastercard Principal member status” says Vladimiras. “I am looking forward helping the team continue moving closer to its mission and achieve tremendous results setting B4B apart from competitors, placing them firmly as an industry leader of innovative b2b payment and expense tracking products, helping our customers achieve more by saving their time for what is important.”

This tops off a productive year for B4B Payments, who offer corporate expense management solutions including corporate expense cards and prepaid business cards. Over the course of the year, B4B have gained EMI status in the UK and expanded into the USA, as well as joining Mastercard as a principal member. As a leading payment processing provider now operating internationally, B4B Payments offer forward-thinking solutions to organisations and businesses of all sizes.