Lock virtual card to merchant

I would like the ability to lock a virtual card to a specific merchant. Maybe I have to select a transaction and choose “lock this card to this merchant” or maybe when creating it I tick a “single merchant only” box and only the first merchant to charge the card gets to use it.
This would ensure that it the merchant looses the details then the stolen card is useless as it can’t be used elsewhere. This would also provide Monzo’s fraud team with a strong signal that a particular merchant has been breached it they see a spike in charges against such cards for a given merchant.

I don’t think there’s any reason why this should not be possible. I’m just implementing a corporate card solution for a client which includes virtual cards which can be restricted to a single merchant so I don’t see why it would not be possible for personal virtual cards. The sticking point might be cost to Monzo. I don’t know if Plus has a limit on the number of virtual cards issued but I’d expect that there’s a cost to Monzo for each one. The corporate agreement comes with complex commercial terms to cover running costs.

Out of interest (personal!) is that a merchant(s) that processes under what name or something like Amazon/Microsoft/Apple which process payments under multiple names?

I know for example if you apply a merchant block on a payment to Amazon then they’re likely to try come back and collect it under Amazon Marketplace or Kindle, or Kindle Unlimited, Prime etc etc.

The same issue occurs with Uber when sometimes they profess Uber transactions as Uber Eat and vice versa.

I imagine you’d have the same issues with an allow list as you do with a block list.

How could you assign a virtual card to Uber, without also allowing Uber Eats transactions, which you might deliberately not want to be authorised!

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I’m assuming that somewhere in the data that MasterCard send to Monzo as an identifier unique to a merchant (seperate from the human friendly one shown in app) which it would use rather than trying to be clever with string matching.

Literally I use the card t Some Cottage Industry LTD to order something which requires a deposit and final payment. Between those payments they leak the details, the details are useless as only Some Cottage Industry LTD can use them.

That data is what we use to generate merchant feedback and the rich merchant experience in the app.

However (I’ll use Lidl as an example as the mrs works there!) lots of places uses many different identifiers. So in her store, different tills use different identifiers - consequently if you buy something from the self service it used to show as Lidl 1794 GB, but if you bought from a checkout it showed as Lidl.

We group all the different ones on the back end into “Lidl” but every time something changes or a new store opens or they replace a till then it needs adding to the group, or you’ll see strange strings of information showing in the app.


Could this explain the various different logos that can occur for the same merchant?

Wow, I was not expecting it to be that messy.
Genuinely thought that signing up as a merchant would result in you getting a unique identifier of some sort.


A point always worth bearing in mind when you see folk on here grumbling about merchant data. What a total minefield!

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Hi @Dan5, the purchaser will go online, choose something they want to purchase, add to basket and then request and generate a virtual card. The request will then go to a manager for authorisation. Once authorised it can only be used for that specific transaction. That takes care of one-offs.

What you can also do is generate a card for, say, £200 to be used with a merchant such as Amazon, which can also be authorised for multiple purchases for that merchant up to the authorised value. It will be interesting to see whether this works for multiple merchant names (as Amazon uses) or whether it’s linked to the URL for example.

The virtual card facility is only a small aspect of the usage so it and will be primarily used used for either one-off purchases or recurring subscriptions - edit - recurring subscriptions I’d expect would retain the same merchant code. It’s an interesting question though and when I’m back at work in a week or so I’ll see if I can get an answer from the bank.

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You’re right dan.
A few of the major company’s have multiple names for instance I got some AirPods last year at a Apple store and it said iTunes

Thanks! I find the whole payments system incredibly complicated and that interests me :thinking:


More than likely, I don’t know that much about how it works but I think it’s either a caching issue in the app, or that the merchant has been assigned to the wrong group (or what the merchant uses that data to process a payment as has changed - so what was once used to process payments for an App Store purchase is now used for an Apple Store purchase).


Anything that requires determining the merchant at time of authorisation is a huge engineering and logistical effort.

You have merchants as big as Apple or Amazon who may go through many different acquirers, merchants who put order codes in the merchant descriptor (name) field or change it depending on what/how you buy, etc.

That’s not to even touch the idea of “what even is a merchant?”, where you have to resolve customer expectations of things like the Xbox Store and Xbox Live moving their backend payments system under Microsoft Store systems.

You have to resolve all of this complexity down to an approve/decline decision in a fraction of a second every single time, and a mistake or something on the merchant’s side changing could mean someone’s transaction does not go through and that is a whole world of potential complaints and liability issues.

Not going to say it will never happen (again, I no longer work for Monzo!) but I hope that gives you an idea of the hidden complexity behind a feature like this. :slightly_smiling_face:


Wow how informative that turned out to be, thank you all. Shane it appears to be much harder than it probablly should be due to the details of the bank <=> master card interface.

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I think/hope/want them to limit the cards, but maybe by £, by uses or by date.

This can can be used upto £100
This can be used 1 time
This can be used until 31/12/2020

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