Controlled Payment Number (CPN) technology like that from Orbiscom provides credit card security technology to make shopping safer, by generating a substitute account number for every purchase made on the Internet. The technology can also be used for off-line purchases that do not require a physical credit card, such as catalogue sales placed over the telephone.
Citibank plans to offer the technology to its 75 million cardholders in the United States, before rolling the technology out to its European customers. Although Citibank is promoting the technology as a fraud prevention measure, Orbiscom sees the implementation of its technology on consumers' desktops as being a more strategic measure for banks.
"Our technology is not just about fraud prevention, because convenience is as big a selling point," said David Brennan, managing director of Orbiscom, speaking to ElectricNews.Net. "Moving to people's desktops is a natural evolution in payment technology and is a key aspiration for banks. With CPN, every time a consumer thinks about making a purchase while on-line, the bank's logo is there, waiting to be used."
Brennan believes that Orbiscom's technology, business model and the calibre of its employees has distinguished them from other players in this sector, whose recent troubles stand in stark contrast to Orbiscom's success. The company has been repeatedly tipped as a possible candidate for a stock market flotation, but Brennan said that Orbiscom has no plan to go public in the current business climate.
"We're keeping a low profile. We have cash, we have business and we have a revenue model," he said.
Unusually, Orbiscom's revenue model is transaction-based: it receives a fee for every credit card transaction that occurs using its technology. This hugely lucrative model is in contrast to most software licensing deals, whereby the software companies receive a one-off licence fee for each copy of their software. The transaction-based model provides revenues to software companies on an on-going basis, and many financial software companies aspire to this model.
"There was huge resistance to the transaction revenue model," said Brennan. "You have to stand firm and once the first set of model contracts has been established, then the principle has been established."
The deal with Orbiscom marks Citibank's latest offering in its on-going effort to protect its cardmembers from fraud, said CitiCard's director of e-business Amy Radin in a statement. Radin said that providing virtual account numbers would give real peace of mind to consumers who don't want their personal credit card information travelling over the Internet.
Orbiscom was founded in 1998 and has signed partner relationships with top card issuers and banks including MBNA, First Data, Discover, Carte Bleue, Swedbank, Abbey National, Societe Generale, Interpay, Credit Lyonnais and AIB.
According to the company its technology is available to over 190 million US-issued credit cards and to more than 500 million credit card holders worldwide. Orbiscom is headquartered in Dublin with offices in New York, London, Brussels, Tokyo and Toronto.
Citibank is part of Citigroup and has 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries.