Banco de Bogotá has rolled out a new type of debit card aimed at Colombians looking to make online purchases abroad. The Colombian financial services company has unveiled three types of debit cards — “infinite,” “platinum,” and a traditional offering — that can solve the frustrating problem many cardholders face when finding their transactions declined by Amazon or other e-commerce sites across the globe.
With the new cards, equipped with CVV2 and other security protections, Banco de Bogotá cardholders can now “make purchases online at any merchant in the world” with these “easy, controlled, and secure mechanisms,” according to the Grupo Aval-controlled company.
Photo: Angélica Ardila unveiled the new Banco de Bogotá debit cards at an event in Medellín in September. (Credit: Loren Moss)
Bank executive Angélica María Ardila Ospina said that she expects the new cards to be used by around one million clients, including many from the younger generation who are increasingly buying items online. “With this new service the bank reaffirms the importance for the enterprise to be where the customer wants to be, fulfilling their expectations and adjusting to their needs,” said Ardila.
Banco de Bogotá also recognized a market opportunity to offer a solution for the large segment of people who have bank accounts but do not have credit cards. As of 2014, according to the Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce, only 43% of not-in-person purchases made in Colombia used debit cards compared to 57% that used credit cards.
“I know that our clients want to make a lot of purchases,” said Ardila, who believes that the bank’s customers are going to be thrilled by this new capability.
While having an option to make international online purchases should be a welcome addition to the market, there is one potential complication. Banco de Bogotá’s daily limits only permit customers to make five transactions per day.
In practice, that shouldn’t be a major impediment to normal shopping behavior, but there is also a default transaction limit of 200,000 pesos. At today’s exchange rate, that is less than $70 USD per day, which will not enable users to make the type of purchases many will want to use the cards for in foreign countries, such as airline tickets, hotel reservations, or big-ticket electronics.
Ardila told Finance Colombia that this cap is imposed for security reasons and can be increased online, however. Cardholders simply must log into their online account to securely adjust the setting. “If you want to pay for an international trip or something like that, you can change your maximum limit on our webpage,” she said.
One other issue is that the cards cannot be used for online purchases within Colombia. They are specific for international purchases on the web. But the domestic restriction does not apply to physical stores. These debit cards can be used in the real world within Colombia just like any other card.
As far as the three card options, the main difference is the rewards. The “infinite” and “platinum” cards go above and beyond the traditional offering in this regard. “If you have the Infinite, you have more benefits, like a credit card,” said Ardila.