Card overview

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Cards allow your individual or corporate customer to pay any merchant—a store or commerce site—anywhere in seconds. Physical or digital cards are powered by global payment networks, such as Mastercard® and Visa®.

A card is a payment instrument for your funds, stored at Nium, that's securely accepted by the major card payment networks in the world.

A card is identified by its unique 16-digit primary account number (PAN), expiration date, and security code, called the card verification value (CVV). Depending on whether the physical card is issued for individual use or business use, the name of the cardholder is also present on the card.

Card support

Nium supports the complete card life cycle, management, and security API operations. Refer to the following guides for more information:

Card type based on funding source

Prepaid card: A prepaid card can be used to pay for things without cash, credit, or a bank account. You buy it with money loaded on it in advance. The card's balance acts as your spending limit. It's also called a prepaid debit card or a stored-value card. Financial entities may offer rewards or disbursements in the form of a prepaid card. It especially helps the unbanked to access and spend.

Debit card: A debit card deducts money directly from a savings or checking account. It's also called a check card or a bank card. It's used to buy goods or services, get cash from an ATM, or add an extra amount of money to a purchase if allowed by a merchant.

Nium, through its licenses and platform capabilities, can issue prepaid and debit cards to individuals or corporate businesses. The term issue is the technical word used to describe the provision of cards to customers with unique card numbers. Nium also offers prepaid and debit cards to its clients, with linkages to virtual account numbers (VANs).

Card issuance at Nium

You can primarily use Nium’s card issuance capabilities for the following:

Nium offers its clients, who deal in expense management, procurement, and supplier payments, the option to offer cards to their customers for payments. It simplifies the monitoring and reconciliation of expenses while providing a fast and secure payment method.

Travel and entertainment expenses: Businesses may need their employees to spend on travel and specific expenses on the company’s behalf as enabled under their specific organizational policies.

Purchase and procurement: Businesses can use card payments for vendors or e-commerce merchants with a virtual card saved on the merchant portal.

Nium offers its clients the option to pay their employees on record through cards. The employee, in turn, gets an employer-branded payment method to spend.

The Nium travel-specific card is for virtual card payments for clients, such as online travel agencies and travel partners, to pay their suppliers with a single-use virtual card.

Issue a card

You can get cards in one or more of the following forms:

Physical cardVirtual cardDigital card
A physical card is made out of plastic or metal. It's built with security features, such as an embedded chip so that it can be read by a merchant or an ATM which is authorized to read the details on its chip or magstripe or via near-field communication (NFC).A virtual card is a visual representation of the card details, such as the PAN, expiration date, and CVV for access and use at online merchants.A digital card is a tokenized value to be used with digital wallets, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. It has the same card number, expiration date, and CVV as your physical card.

Nium issues the cards with an API call.

Physical: When a customer asks for a physical card, it's printed and dispatched by Nium, the personalization vendor, to the address that the cardholder specifies. You and Nium need to agree on the turn-around time. The plastic card can be used at the merchant's location once it's received and activated.

Virtual: When a customer asks for a virtual card, they get the 3 key details—card number, expiration date, and CVV—immediately so the card is ready for use.

Virtual upgraded to physical: When a customer asks for a virtual card to be upgraded to a physical card, they get the virtual card immediately followed by the physical card as per the agreed schedule later. The virtual card and the physical card have the same details. The virtual card is ready to use on a merchant’s website during checkout by the cardholders and it's authenticated. The physical card is in an inactive state and needs to be activated by the cardholder before use.

Use a card

A card transaction is done when you present it to the merchant and the merchant attempts to read the card.

Cards can be tapped at a card point-of-sale (POS) terminal that supports NFC reading or inserted or swiped. This scenario is identified as a customer-present and a card-present transaction.

Card details, such as the card number, expiration date, and CVV, can also be entered on a merchant’s website during checkout by the cardholder. This information is authenticated. This scenario is identified as a customer-present but a card-not-present transaction.

If the card is enrolled in websites such as Netflix or Spotify, where the merchant bills you automatically on the registered card for a monthly subscription, this scenario is identified as a customer-not-present, a card-not-present, or a card-on-file transaction.

When you make a transaction on a card, it's completed within seconds of making it. The issuer authenticates and authorizes the transaction through a multi-stakeholder process.

Nium supports different card authorization models, digital wallet tokenization, and 3D Secure (3DS) verification. Refer to the following guides for more information:

Fund a card

Cards at Nium are linked to the virtual accounts or wallets of individual customers or corporate customers held at Nium. These accounts receive funding from the clients:

  1. Corporate-funded programs: Nium typically supports card programs where you, the client, are funding Nium's bank account to hold and account for the virtual money to be used on cards. Nium also provides various account funding capabilities to collect funds from corporate customers on the Nium platform to fund the card program.
  2. Customer-funded programs: Nium’s wallets support many collections and third-party funding programs. They also support individual customers who want to fund card programs.

For more details on the card funding program, contact your Nium account representative.

Restrict a card

Apart from any regulatory compliance restrictions related to a person, place, etc., Nium places the below restrictions on the card issuing under any program.

Restriction by location: Nium restricts the issuance of cards to countries that have been reviewed or agreed to mutually between the card networks and you. The restriction is made distinctly for virtual and physical cards, where physical cards cannot be shipped to cross-border markets. The list of countries is documented during the onboarding process and implemented:

The primary card issuance country determines where the physical or virtual card is going to be issued. This value is configurable and can be changed in the future.

You can only issue virtual or physical cards cross-border to approved countries.

The Nium system verifies the cardholder’s billing address country against the approved countries listed. After that check, it allows the system to issue the cards to the respective countries.

Restriction by the number of cards: Nium restricts the number of cards issued to a single customer—individual or corporate—per card network guidelines to a maximum—virtual or physical—of 1000 cards. The restriction is the upper limit and you can set a lower limit for your program as required.

This restriction only accounts for active or locked cards and doesn't account for blocked or canceled cards. The platform checks the limits before every new issuance, assignment, or replacement of cards.

The restriction on the number of cards can be imposed at:

Individual customer level: The amount of all cards issued to a single individual customer needs to fall under the limit, irrespective of the corporate customer linked to the individual.

Corporate customer level: The amount of all cards issued under a corporate customer, and linked to individual customers, needs to fall under the limit.