A card-not-present solution is a mechanism to complete a transaction without having a physical card in place. As the payment marketplace embraces more digital transactions, card-not-present solutions are becoming more and more common. Consumers and commercial entities alike have transitioned to making a large portion of their purchases online as opposed to in person at a brick-and-mortar location. Federal agencies are following suit and the trend toward online purchasing continues to grow. In addition, many commercial entities have implemented digital payment options at their physical locations.

The GSA SmartPay program offers several different strategic payment solutions for agencies to consider, including:

  • Declining Balance Cards
  • Ghost Cards
  • Mobile Payments
  • Single Use Accounts

GSA SmartPay Strategic Payment Solutions Video Series
#1 Cardless Solutions
Want to learn something new?!?  GSA SmartPay offers solutions that make your job easier and increase spend within the program. Check it out!

Card Present vs. Card Not Present Spend

Card Present vs. Card Not Present Transactions

Card Present vs. Card Not Present Spend by Business Line

Declining Balance Cards

Declining balance cards have the same functionality as a charge card, but the limits on the declining balance cards do not have to refresh each month. Declining balance cards are a central liability and thus are paid for by the agency/organization much like the Purchase or Travel Centrally Billed Accounts (CBAs). This type of card can be for a specific purpose or for a specified time period and with a predetermined credit limit. The credit limit can be reset as needed, set for a specified time, or become inactive once the balance is depleted.

A declining balance card allows for greater oversight and control. Like with a traditional centrally billed payment solution, an agency pays for the amount designated on the card as the card is depleted (and not when the card is set up and the limit designated), and therefore it would not be considered an advanced payment. Similar authorization controls, such as MCC blocks, can be used on these types of cards in the same way that they are used to control the traditional GSA SmartPay Program cards.


Ghost Cards

A ghost card is an account number that is specific to an agency or an entity within an agency. The term “card” can be misleading because there is not a need for a plastic card for the transactions. A ghost card is a CBA that is designated specifically for a supplier frequently utilized by an agency, allowing for any authorized agency personnel to purchase from the vendor without having to use multiple cards or accounts. The ghost card is typically managed in a central location by one office/department within an agency.

A ghost card allows for an agency to consolidate purchases to a single vendor under one account, aiding in reconciliation as well as transaction oversight. Agencies can utilize ghost cards for purchases such as booking airfare for travelers and for paying utilities. It is important to note that accounts issued in the agency or department name, instead of an individual’s name, have different chargeback and dispute rights.


Mobile Payments

Mobile payments allow agencies to make secure payments utilizing a mobile device (e.g., a smartphone) at the point of sale. Essentially, a mobile payment is a version of a charge card loaded onto a mobile device so that the cardholder doesn’t have to carry a plastic charge card.

Mobile payment utilization has increased drastically in the consumer card industry and has started to gain traction in the corporate card industry. Many brick-and-mortar retailers accept some form of mobile payments.


Single Use Accounts (SUAs)

Single use accounts allow an agency to utilize a virtual account number for a single payment.The limit on each single use account is equal to the single payment amount. A single use account can provide your agency with a precise set of controls surrounding a single payment, including establishing the virtual account number for a single dollar amount, a limited amount of time,MCC blocks, and account expiration dates. Agencies also have the ability to append accounting data for seamless reconciliation.

Single use accounts are a great option for agencies looking to reduce the number of convenience checks being written. By utilizing an account number one time, the agency reduces the risk of fraud as compared to convenience checks, while increasing oversight into the payment data.

Single use accounts are a great option for agencies looking to expand contract payments through the charge card program. They allow agencies to make invoice payments to a specific vendor for a specific invoice and include controls to ensure that the vendor only receives the invoice amount. Agencies can greatly maximize refunds by moving these types of payments to single use accounts.