5,321 iPads and 4,942 iPhones deceitfully bought on the company’s account – the company was defrauded for more than $6 million!

Company Credit Card Usage Goes Rogue

Canadian firm Wescom Solutions Inc. followed the standard approach of allocating company credit cards to be used by multiple employees. Under this practice, it distributed 180 cards to more than 600 employees and faced disastrous consequences.

For the accounting manager at Wescom, Nadia Minetto, the job was to approve payments on all of the company’s American Express credit cards used by employees for business expenses, including her own.

The accountant went rampant, purchasing Apple products and other personal goods and services, misappropriating at least $6,831,834 of Wescom’s money. But these weren’t the only egregious acts committed. Additionally, Minetto gifted a cash amount of $10,000 to a family friend, bought season tickets to basketball games for almost $6,000, sold a car, and went on a lavish trip, all on the company’s tab. It all went undetected for five years!

These acts indicate the bigger issue that companies must grapple with – allocating a single company credit card – to be used by multiple employees simultaneously. Today,  marketing and ad spending have gone digital. Allocating sums for different teams, campaigns, and accounts requires on-the-go disbursal of money.

But isn’t there a way to prevent misappropriation of company funds while allowing employees to handle money earmarked only for specific expenses? Let’s find out by starting from the ground up.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

According to Statista Research Department, “In 2021, close to half (41.4%) of all online ad revenue in the United States was generated through search advertising. About a third of the revenue came from online display ads that year.”

What is PPC?

In today’s marketing world, digital is king, and pay-per-click (PPC) is the law of its land. PPC is a form of digital marketing in which you place ads on search engine result pages, social media channels, and other websites. It’s a form of advertising where you only pay each time someone clicks on your ad. They are an excellent way to gain new leads and generate sales.

PPC advertising can include text, images, and even video ads. Using an ad network, like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, or Facebook Business Advertising, you can advertise across the internet with PPC ads on the most valuable channels for your business.

One nifty aspect of PPC advertising is that you can set spending caps on the amount of money you’re willing to pay for different advertisement slots.

Advertising Spend

According to Statista, in the United States, digital advertising expenditures are estimated to surpass $200 billion this calendar year.

While the advertising budget for each business varies on a case-by-case basis, there are some broad figures to consider. According to WebFX, a tech-enabled digital marketing solutions provider, the average cost of PPC for small and med-sized businesses is along these lines:

Metric

Average cost

Cost per click

$1 - $2

CPC for remarketing(1)

$0.66 - $1.23

Monthly cost

$9,000 - $10,000

Annual cost

$108,000 - $120,000

1 - Remarketing is about “reminding” a user to act, using information about their purchase history.

While this is a starting point, you can plan for ad spend success by estimating a few key metrics using an ROI calculator such as this one by HubSpot.

Taking cues from these metrics, a hypothetical ad spending budget for your business might look like this:

Platform

Monthly Ad Spend

Total Ad Spend

$9000

Facebook Business Advertising

$1000

Google Ads

$4000

Microsoft Advertising

$4000

Managing Expenditures

Corporate Credit Cards

For handling multiple business advertising expenses, using a dedicated corporate credit card which links to your organization’s account is the standard route. There are some caveats, though. Remember Wescom Solutions Inc.?

Let’s talk about something that must be brewing at the back of your mind. With several ad campaigns operating simultaneously, and separate teams handling ads for each search engine network or social media website, managing expenses can be a nightmare. The easy solution would be to use a company credit card to pay for the ad campaigns. But handling business expenses in this manner is tied with many inherent risks.

Risks of Using a Standalone Company Credit Card

1. Control over employee spending

At the outset, using a single credit card to handle ad expenses means a lack of monitoring ability. You will face massive challenges monitoring each employee’s credit card use. Earlier, we spoke about setting spending limits on the amount of money you’re willing to pay for advertisement slots. What if an employee goes around this cap and grossly mismanages the allotted amount on other unauthorized expenses?

Result: You’re giving away any semblance of accountability, visibility, and control. This route can lead to misuse of the credit card, sometimes for nefarious purposes, increasing the chances of fraudulent activity passing unnoticed. This is the scenario Wescom faced.

2. Loss of credit cards

Since there’s a single point of failure, physically losing the company credit card details will translate to a complete stop on all your ad spend activity.

Result: Misplacement of card details can lead to maxing out the credit card limit, making it impossible to confirm the legitimacy of transactions and follow up on missing information.

3. Outdated technology

The user interfaces for managing company credit cards tend to be clunky and don’t allow for seamless integration with the in-house accounting software. Not just this, you cannot handle all of the account’s activities in real time. The clock can go ticking by, just as it did for Wescom and Minetto!

Result: This can lead to expanded administrative activities such as contacting the bank every time you need to raise or lower the card’s spending limit, resolve potential fraudulent transactions, etc.

4. Sharing card details

Sharing a common card across different teams, campaigns, and accounts will translate to sharing sensitive information between multiple employees. While you may trust your employees to do the right thing and be ethical, having a system of checks and balances is essential. Even the CEO of a corporation needs to face the Board of Directors.

Result: This will lead to delays in the timely execution of your PPC campaigns. The card details will have to be first located and acquired, and then a request will be generated for the payment. This, in turn, will be possible only once approved. This is an alarming situation that is tedious and risky.

Virtual Prepaid Cards: A Brilliant Alternative to Credit Cards

It’s time to give your expense management system a face-lift. The future isn’t plastic; it’s virtual. Swap your business credit cards in favor of virtual prepaid cards. Let’s learn more about them.

Virtual Cards

A virtual card is simply an online version of a plastic bank card. They work in the same fashion as normal plastic cards for online transactions. The pertinent details that distinguish a card, such as the 16-digit number, expiry date, and CVV number, are accessible by logging into your account online. Although linked to your business’s card account, these virtual numbers cannot be traced back.

Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards are loaded with a certain sum of money, and there is no connection with your business’s banking account. Your expense management department decides how much “cash” is allocated to the card, and this limit cannot be breached.

Virtual Prepaid Cards

These are an amalgamation of the previous two card types. Virtual prepaid cards scale your security to the maximum. Instead of letting employees like Minetto run up debts using a single company card, top-up each virtual prepaid card with an allocated budget. Since this card has the benefits of a virtual card, there’s nothing physical to steal, and the card cannot be traced back to the company bank account.

Making The Shift to Digital World

Are you ready to shift to digital while the tide is in your favor? Broadly, organizations are unaware of the costs associated with virtual and real-time payment methods. But they are aware of their benefits. The 2022 AFP® Payments Cost Benchmarking Survey highlights these changes.

Awareness

Not everyone has made the shift to digital. According to the 2022 AFP® Payments Cost Benchmarking Survey, there is still a lack of awareness of the costs of using different payment methods. See how stark the responses for real-time payments and virtual cards are compared to other payment methods.

(Source: 2022 AFP® Payments Cost Benchmarking Survey)

Reasons

The data from the 2022 AFP® Payments Cost Benchmarking Survey is in line with the broader benefits of using virtual cards, as discussed before. The major reasons for moving away from paper checks to electronic payments by organizations are shown in the graphic below. Fraud prevention comes in at the 3rd spot, with 67% of the respondents citing it as a key benefit.

(Source: 2022 AFP® Payments Cost Benchmarking Survey)
(Source: 2022 AFP® Payments Cost Benchmarking Survey)

Functioning

Now that we’ve got your ear, let’s understand how a virtual prepaid card system works. Let’s see how a firm like Wescom Solutions Inc. could have avoided a ruinous outcome.

Instead of using a single, company-wide credit card, you assign a virtual prepaid card to each account. Connecting with our previous example, you might create:

  • A Facebook Business Advertising virtual prepaid card
  • A Google Ads virtual prepaid card
  • A Microsoft Advertising virtual prepaid card

After a macro-level division, you can divide the budget even further by allocating cards on a sub-group basis such as by project, by campaign or even by team. You can also assign virtual prepaid cards to specific users as an extension. Consider these examples:

  • Employee A managing Facebook Ads for Autumn Sales might have a monthly budget of $350
  • Employee B managing Google Ads for a Product Group might have a monthly budget of $1,150

Such caps will provide budget control, ensuring that no employee goes around this cap and grossly mismanages the allotted amount on other unauthorized expenses. This approach also gives you the added benefit of real-time centralized administration.

View this graphic to get a visual understanding of how the system works:

Benefits of Using Virtual Prepaid Cards

It’s not a hard sell to convince you why virtual prepaid cards are a great option for managing your marketing and advertising spending. Read on to find out their benefits.

1. Ease of Use

A massive benefit of using virtual prepaid cards is that they can be used to charge goods and services by employees without having to go through the formal purchase request and approval process. Virtual prepaid cards can be created quickly and used straightaway. Your business won’t need to wait a week to receive the card. Additionally, you can create as many cards as you need for your business.

2. Ease of Customisation

Your business can issue an individual employee’s name on the card associated with a specific Facebook/Google/Microsoft ad campaign account, meaning only that employee will have access to the card.

3. Increase Safety and Security

Virtual prepaid cards aren’t physical items; they reduce the chances of cloning and fraud. Additionally, hackers can’t trace the details back to the original account. If needed, your expenses department can freeze the card remotely and immediately.

4. Bypass Blocking Concerns

If you’re using a single company-wide credit card, there’s a chance that you’ll come up against the credit limit, which can cause transactions to get blocked or the card to get declined. In other instances, using the same card for each marketing campaign can trigger a fraud alert, causing the ad management platforms to block your accounts.

5. Increase Control Over Spending

Your business receives a more transparent overview of company finances.nlike Wescom’s case, you can drill down to see who is spending where (not more than the allocated amount). This transparency makes it easier to manage finances.

A Quick Recap

In this article, we shared the inherent drawbacks of using corporate credit cards to manage marketing and advertising spending. Your enterprise may encounter a lack of monitoring ability, leakage of sensitive information, challenges with clunky interfaces, and, most importantly, a single point of failure.

However, there isn’t a need to despair since virtual prepaid cards address all of these pain points. These can be created quickly and used immediately; you can ensure gatekeeping so that only the designated employee can access a particular card. This means you can avoid breaching the credit limit and reduce the chances of cloning and fraud.

Most importantly, you get a more transparent overview of your company’s finances.

How Can Xoxoday Help You With Virtual Prepaid Cards?

Xoxoday lets you instantly issue virtual prepaid cards from popular networks like Visa® and Mastercard® to your marketing teams, anytime and anywhere, to run advertising campaigns and, consequently, help your company better serve its clients.

What’s more, using Xoxoday’s virtual prepaid cards, you unlock savings on processing fees and manual costs while getting the benefits of minimal processing and integration fees. Avoid breaching credit limits and embezzlement of funds while maintaining access to sensitive financial information—request access to our platform today to learn more about how it works.

If you’re interested in a self-served, quick-to-set-up, and easy-to-use platform that is Xoxoday. Request a demo today!

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Employee Motivation
Mohit Bansal

Mohit Bansal

Mohit Bansal has 6 years of experience in solving early product and product marketing problems. In his last stint, he along with his co-founders bootstrapped a profitable startup.