what is an ephemeral virtual card and how to use it?

The ephemeral virtual bank card (or disposable virtual card) is a good way to protect against online purchase fraud. We tell you how it works and how to use it on a daily basis.

ephemeral virtual card

Want to make a purchase on the internet, but you don’t want the site to be able to keep your banking information? Does the site look suspicious to you? The ephemeral virtual card (not to be confused with the virtual card in general) is undoubtedly the best option to avoid unpleasant surprises.

What is an ephemeral virtual bank card and how does it work?

Its name may not indicate it and not all banks refer to it by this term, but an ephemeral virtual card is nothing more than a semantic pirouette to designate a single-use dematerialized card. Concretely, it takes over from your good old plastic card by keeping the latter’s coordinates while generating random numbers that are only used once. This therefore allows you to make an online payment without having to use your usual bank card and thus prevent a merchant site from keeping your bank information or a third party from reproducing your card and carrying out operations with it.

The operation of an ephemeral virtual card is relatively simple. If your bank offers you this option in your offer, it will generate an ephemeral card associated with your account, usable only once and valid for one month. Once the card has been used and the purchase made, it is simply destroyed by the bank and cannot be found.

Note, however, that there are necessarily limits to this type of card. The operation is 100% dematerialized and there is therefore no way to withdraw cash from the distributor with it. It is also impossible to use this type of card for recurring payments such as telecom bills or subscriptions, for example. In the latter cases, you can still use it to try out a service for a month without having the surprise of an unwanted charge the following month.

Even if this remains an even more interesting protection than the 3D Secure system (validation of a payment by code sent by SMS or via banking application), other methods or types of cards are also used by certain banks to limit the risk of frauds. This is the case for cards with a dynamic cryptogram (code that changes every hour). You can also think of online payment services like Paypal or Google Pay which avoid having to enter your bank details when making a purchase, but simply log into your account.

How do I make a purchase with an ephemeral virtual card?

Does your bank offer this option? Top ! Now is the time to use it. If the method may differ depending on the bank, the principle remains relatively similar each time and generally requires you to use your banking application.

  • Connect to your personal space from your banking application
  • Select option Ggenerate a virtual card Where Create an ephemeral card in the Map section of the application.
  • Select the desired amount for the card and the expiry date (if requested) then validate.
  • The card is saved in your app and will be destroyed once your purchase is made.

Which banks offer to generate ephemeral virtual cards for free?

In general, this type of service is chargeable in traditional banking establishments and in some online banks. One thinks in particular of Société Générale which charges this service 12 euros per year.

However, there are a few offers that include an ephemeral credit card option. This is the case of N26 and Revolut on the neobank side and Fortuneo on the online banking side.


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