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Virtual Cards Case Study: Thinking Outside the Plastic for Microsoft Travel Expenses

Streamlining travel expenses for Microsoft™

Cutting-edge technology is a business requirement in today’s world—whether you’re a global conglomerate or a small regional company. With that mindset, Microsoft, a customer of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT)—was in search of an innovative solution that would take their travel program to the next level. Their focus was on streamlining their multiple booking processes for their various travelers including full-time employees (FTEs), and non-FTEs: contractors, government officials, and recruits.

During a business planning meeting, Microsoft raised the potential solution of virtual payments to simplify their multiple payment processes, and expand reporting and monitoring capabilities to support compliance. In particular, their hotel program utilized multiple billing processes—creating too much complexity with reconciliation. Finally, Microsoft was looking at specific expense efficiencies which at the time involved the use of travel accounts, corporate cards, and paper receipts to track and reimburse travel expenses.

Together we established goals that would work for Microsoft’s business, including:

  • Streamlined and standardized processes to book and pay for non-FTE travel
  • Reportable data related to non-FTE travel
  • A seamless travel experience for non-FTEs
  • Booking process improvements that delivered operational efficiencies and reduced costs
  • Adequate controls over hotel billing processes and payments
  • Improved duty of care with appropriate spend management controls


By collaborating with Microsoft and Conferma™, we were able implement a virtual credit card payments solution: VIRTUAL PAYMENT EXPERT powered by Conferma. VIRTUAL PAYMENT EXPERT creates a Virtual Card Number (VCN) with a 15-digit number and works in the same way as a plastic credit card. VCNs are generated digitally at point of sale and used for a specified transaction; the VCN expires after use to limit misuse or fraud. Simply put, Microsoft can use a single-use Virtual Card Payment for each transaction, set spending controls, and capture vital travel data for reconciliation all through one clear, streamlined process.

We led the end-to-end implementation process, engaging and aligning all key stakeholders to ensure a successful, easy deployment for Microsoft.

The new virtual payment solution gave Microsoft the technological upper-hand with improved compliance, time efficiency, and program visibility.

  • Eliminated multiple bill payments and billing processes; pushed all hotel payments through VIRTUAL PAYMENT EXPERT
  • Created ability to track, monitor, and reconcile all traveler spend in a single source
  • Eliminated the reimbursement process entirely and created access to booking information by using the TripPay™ app on the Windows Phone platform


“Our market-leading VCN technology was absolutely perfect for what Microsoft wanted American Express GBT to deliver for them. They wanted control, automation, simple reconciliation, compliance, efficiency, and they wanted it to be compatible with Windows-powered mobile devices. Our technology was able to provide this. We developed a bespoke solution that integrated seamlessly with the end product. We are proud to be at the heart of a winning solution for a world leading company,” said Simon Barker, CEO of Conferma.

“The Conferma payment technology provides Microsoft’s Non-FTE travelers, such as recruits, with a better travel experience while reducing their out-of-pocket expenses from an average of $1,000¹ per trip to less than $150¹ per trip. Once again, technology has helped us reduce company and traveler risk while providing a better experience for travelers and travel agents.” said Eric Bailey, Microsoft’s Global Travel & Events Manager.

¹Source: Microsoft reporting