Controlled payment number

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A controlled payment number (also called a "substitute credit card number" or "one-time use credit card") is an alias for one's credit card number. It is generated through the use of either a web application or a specialized client program, interacting with the card issuer's computer, and is linked to one's actual credit card number.

Typically, a controlled payment number has a limit, and an expiration date between two and twelve months from the issue date, both chosen by the account owner, and while it can usually be set up to allow multiple transactions, it can only be used with a single merchant. This "alias" number is indistinguishable from an ordinary credit card number, and the user's actual credit card number is never revealed to the merchant. Thus, if it is compromised, a fraudulent user can usually do little or no damage.

The system was developed by Orbiscom, a Dublin-based payment processing company, and is used by a number of credit card issuers. In the USA, these include Bank of America (which inherited its system, "ShopSafe," when it acquired MBNA), Citibank ("Virtual Account Numbers"), Discover ("Discover Deskshop"), and NetSpend's "virtual accounts". Examples from other countries are MBnet, which can create a payment number linked to virtually any credit or debit card emitted in Portugal, and UK-based Neteller which offers a "virtual card" with card details generated uniquely for each transaction. Of past examples, UK-based Ivobank offered a similar "virtual card" right until it went bankrupt in 2009, while Cahoot withdrew their webcard in October 2009.

"Controlled Payment Number" is a trademark of Orbiscom,[1] which was acquired by Mastercard in January 2009.[2]

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