Apple moves further into finance with 'virtual cards' in iOS 16

in iOS
The latest developer beta of iOS 16 includes references to an unannounced support for virtual cards, a security feature used by banks to protect users' real credit card details.

A potentially significant new feature has been discovered in the code for the newly-released third iOS 16 developer beta. Although not announced or previously rumored, it appears that Apple may add support for so-called virtual cards.

Virtual cards are a security measure used by banks and credit card companies. Using this measure, a credit card owner gets an extra card number which acts as an alias for the real one.

Typically a virtual card will work for only a limited number of transactions. They will also have a comparatively short lifespan, often being usable for no more than a year.

Apple Card already hides a user's genuine number, but the beta code discovered in iOS 16 suggests an expansion of this idea. It implies that Safari will be able to provide a virtual card for sites that do not accept the regular Apple Card or Apple Pay.

"Make this card available in Safari AutoFill and hide your real card number when shopping online," goes one reference in the code. "Continue to use your card as usual. When shopping online, it's now available in Safari AutoFill with your real card information hidden."

Then there is also this: "For added security, the website will now use a virtual card number and is available in Safari AutoFill."

The inclusion of code such as this is not proof that the feature will launch when iOS 16 ships. However, its presence in the beta means it is at least being tested.

These code references were first spotted by 9to5Mac.

Virtual Card support follows Apple's increasing moves into finance. While it has long had Apple Pay, and in recent years added Apple Card, the company announced a Buy Now, Pay Later service at WWDC 2022.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 3
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,076member
    Discover used to have a nice virtual card feature.  You could generate virtual card numbers to use for online/phone transactions.  Once a card number was used for a given payment, it would only ever work at the same vendor, if the card number was stolen it was worthless for transactions anywhere else.  If it was for a recurring service that you wanted to cancel, you could delete the number and it would stop working.

    They discontinued it years ago.  I was not happy.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,947member
    My wife's Capital One Venture card has a really nice implementation of this.  You can create a virtual card that is tied to a specific merchant anf it is only usable at that merchant.  (It is meant for e-commerce obviously).  It doesn't have a limited length of time (IIRC the expiration date is a couple years in the future) or any of that (which is good).  What it does have is the ability to deactivate and reactivate the number at will.   So almost all the ones I've created get deactivated after use (manual action).  When and if I go back to that site in the future I just reactivate and away I go.  It is also useful for monthly or periodically recurring transactions for memberships or service fees as it is tied to that merchant only.  Those are the only ones that I don't deactivate regularly. 

    My Apple Card is used 99% for Apple Pay only so this feature On Apple Card is good but doesn't really affect me. 

    I wish Chase would implement the same feature.  I use Chase -- the Capital One is the wife's, though I am an authorized user.  Chase has had to replace multiple cards across multiple accounts in the last 2 years due to leakage and fraudulent use.  

    Great feature. 
    edited July 2022 Japheywilliamlondonlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 3
    y2any2an Posts: 164member
    How is this related to “moving further into finance”? This is an improvement to the security of cards used from Wallet.

    What I do see though in this and a number of other quietly made moves by Apple recently is deliberate actions towards removing actual or perceived advantages Apple holds for themselves. I would call this preparing for confrontations with regulators by being able to show their intent to give third parties fair and equal access to features. 
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