Adding Virtual Cards to      Card


Last week was a big week for my Mom and her coaching business. She launched her new course, new website, and most exciting of all, her new Apple podcast! However, setting up the podcast was a much bigger challenge than anticipated (and nothing to do with Apple). 

My Moms new personal assistant was setting up the podcast and needed my Moms credit card information to complete the process. Understandably, this is something my Mom did not feel comfortable giving. Therefore, she tried to submit her own credit card information to the site and let her virtual assistant complete the rest of the steps. This ended up complicating things and resulted in 27 2FA codes being sent between them!!

More than an hour later, the podcast account was finally set up! Even though the process ended up being exhausting, for the rest of the day my Mom couldn’t hide her infatuation with Apple. 

Security and privacy are clearly some of Apple’s greatest strengths, and strengths that are highly valued by consumers. In fact, after the process I couldn’t help but wonder how Apple could play a role to allow my Mom to securely share her credit card information, and ensure that it only gets used on Apple Podcasts, and only for 20 dollars a month?  

“I’ve never seen a company do THIS much to ensure your privacy!”
“How did they know which device to send a 2FA code and when!!”
“Now I know why its your favourite company!” 

There is an opportunity for Apple to introduce new features to it’s existing products in order to allow their customers to securely share credit card numbers with others in a private and monitored manner. They should be able to limit how much money is spent by different individuals or merchants. But why Apple?

With competitors like Samsung also releasing their own credit cards, Apple needs to stay competitive in the financial world by introducing new features that help its consumers. 

What does success look like?
What is the opportunity, and why is it important to Apple?

Apple is at the forefront of privacy

Already have an Apple Card in the financial world 

Increased competition 

In recent years, Apple has been emphasizing it’s strength in retaining consumer privacy and security. One of the areas in which privacy and security is crucial is in banking and therefore, it is key domain for Apple to extend into. It also aligns directly with Apple’s goals of helping their users live a more financially healthy life.

Apple has already expanded into finance and is supporting its consumers financial health through smarter tools and greater transparency through its Apple card. It can capitalize on the cards existing architecture and continue to build features that meet consumer needs and continue to meet their goal. 

Success for Apple would be adding a new feature to the existing successful Apple Card in order to support the creation and use of virtual card numbers. 

Virtual card numbers allow customers to safely give and use their credit card without actually giving the confidential information of their credit card. 

Furthermore, Apple can take this one step further and allow its customers to set spending limits on individual virtual cards. This will allow customers to have a better idea of where they are spending. Like Apple says ‘setting limits teaches healthy spending’. 

Adding support for multiple virtual cards and spending limtis can help users in so many different scenarios. They can set virtual cards to specific merchants for recurring payments and ensure that they are not overcharged. Furthermore, security wise, if a merchant ends up being hacked, then users can simply cancel the single virtual card being compromised instead of cancelling their entire card. 

Virtual card numbers will not help customers, but also Apple as they expand into the financial space and remain competitive. 

But what is the process that I used to get to this solution?

Most of the projects that I work on are real life projects being implemented. Therefore, I usually work with real constraints. However, given this project is a feature idea, I was not working with real constraints but rather imagining a big picture greenpath. Furthermore, usually the design process is more iterative with constant feedback from team members, fresh eyes and design studios. Lastly, I usually conduct user interviews if relevant however this project was mainly based on research. I do believe though that interviews are not always necessary and that designers guts should be trusted. 

Adapting the Design Process for this project






Usual Process




Competitor Analysis
Pain Points

User Stories

Future Steps

Stats you want to know

In order to find out more about pain points regarding financial management, I researched into where people are losing the most unnecessary money in the United States and United Kingdom, 2 out of 5 of Apple’s biggest target markets.

I found that a huge opportunity for Apple is to help people manage their subscriptions, since this is where individuals are losing the most money. 

More than 70% of the surveyed consumers say they continue paying for unwanted subscriptions because they simply forget to cancel the service before it's renewed.


56% of people say it takes them about three months to track down and cancel unwanted recurring payments.


Britons waste £800m on unwanted subscriptions a year


47% of Britain has been caught out by free trial offers because they forgot - or were unable - to cancel them, and many more than once


23% of people kept paying for a subscription for two to three months because of the hassle or difficulty of cancelling it


More than 66% of people say the inconvenience of managing free trials and subscriptions has stopped them from signing up for new ones.



One of the biggest issues individuals have with subscriptions is the feeling of being cheated. If individuals are able to trust Apple with managing their subscriptions, they will have increased loyalty to the brand and be more likely to be life long consumers. Helping individuals manage their subscriptions in a fair way is not just pro consumer, but pro business as well. 

Consumers want to manage subscriptions with ease

Consumers are resistant in signing up for free trials

Trust is crucial to start a free trial

Consumers want an easier way to manage their subscriptions in order to not waste money and track their spending better. This aligns directly with Apple’s goals of ‘and money - aligns with Apples goals of helping their users live a more financially healthy life.

The inconvenience of managing free trials and subscriptions is preventing the majority of people from signing up for more subscriptions. This affects Apple who have subscriptions integrated into many of their business models. 


Competitor Analysis

Competitors such as, 1Password, Volopay and Stripe are beginning to include the ability to generate infinte virtual card numbers to users in order to increase privacy and also to help set spending limits and better financial management. 

From the reviews online, it is evident that consumers love the idea of virtual credit cards to manage finances, but the current execution of competitors is not up to par with their expectations.

User Stories


Based on the user research and competitor analysis, we can consolidate the different wants of users


User Story






I want to be able to share my credit card information without it being used elsewhere or accessing my information

I want to be able to sign up for free trial without stress of remembering to cancel

I want to make sure I am not overcharged for a subscription later because I missed something in the terms and conditions

I want to track my spending better in order to become financially healthier

I want to make sure that when I pay, my card information is safe and will not get hacked


All of the pain points that users are facing with competitor apps could be resolved if Apple were to support virtual cards as a native feature. The bad user experience is related to the functionality of the app not being consistent across the Apple ecosystem.

Another benefit of supporting virtual cards natively is that users won’t need to download another plugin or app. The idea of making another account is overwhelming for many people (including me!).

Pain Points

Apps don't work well in portrait and landscape mode

App doesn't work well between MacOS and iOS - inconsistent UI and UX

Card numbers from the app don't autofill during online transactions

There is no dark mode in the app

Navigating to Virtual Cards

Creating a Virtual Card

Modifying a Virtual Card

Paying with a Virtual Card

Recurring - Payment goes through

Recurring - Payment doesn't goes through

Manual - Payment goes through

Manual - Payment doesn't goes through

How does this meet user goals...

If you’re worried that your card may be affected by fraud or privacy breaches, simply block, freeze or cancel the appropriate virtual card to protect yourself. This will not impact any of your other virtual or physical cards. This isolates incidents to just one card and one vendor. No more cancelling your card every time your card is hacked!

Share card information without risking privacy

No longer stress of manually cancelling free trials or temporary subscriptions

Easy to cancel one virtual card without affecting all other payments

With virtual credit cards, a customer can generate a specific card number to share with someone else. Furthermore, in order to ensure that the card is only used for permitted purchases, consumers can set spending limits, merchant limits or category limits to ensure the card isn’t used where it shouldn’t be. Burner cards can also be created for one time purchases to untrusted sources. 

I know I can’t be the only one with a calendar full of reminders to cancel free trials, subscriptions renewing or payment methods to update. With the support of virtual cards, users can set a limit of $0 on their card to ensure that it is never charged. This ensures that they do not get overcharged for forgetting to cancelling free trials. 

Setting up different virtual cards will allow customers to get a birds eye view of how many subscriptions they have and where there money is going. Furthermore, the spending limits will allow them to assess where they are spending more than they like and allow for more budgeting. As Apple says ‘spending limits help financial health’. 

Track payments and budgets accurately for more financial health

...and business goals?

We saw in the ‘What is it the opportunity, and why is it important to Apple?’ section of the case study that by introducing the support of virtual cards to Apple Card, Apple is maintaining its position as a leader in privacy, as well as continuing to meet its goal of helping its users live more financially healthy lives. Furthermore, with increased competition from Samsung introducing its own credit cards, Apple must continue to innovate new features in its existing Apple card. 

Potential Future Steps


What I've learned

When researching into the design culture at Apple, I found that for years, Apple has used Picasso's Bull drawings to help its designers learn how to capture the essence of a product, and remove the parts that are not essential. In this design exercise, I tried to only keep the features absolutely necessary to a user to get their jobs done, without overwhelming them with unnecessary features. Less is sometimes more.

The importance of balancing user research and product sense

Apple’s principle of finding the minimal solution for everything

One of the very first lessons taught to a product designer is the importance of user research. Although I very much recognize the benefits of user research in allow designers to learn more about user experiences and pain points, I have learned through working at Shopify and through doing this case that designers do not always have access to users. Instead, it is important to develop product sense so that your intuition can be relied on to make decisions without constantly needing to consult users. 

While designing these features to add to Apple Card, I was concerned that my ideas were not net new, as they have been implemented by competitors such as or Stripe. However, I was inspired my Tim Cook’s quote of “It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best. We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right”. I think this is the beauty of this case study. It is implementing features that customers want but in the best user experience so that everything is integrated and easy to use. That is Apple’s greatest strength.

You don’t need to do it first, but do it best

Scoping greenpath to be able to launch and test with a MVP

If I were to continue working on this project, I would break down the greenpath vision into smaller sprints or goals in order ship faster and gather user feedback sooner. Most probably, I would first ship the functionality to generate virtual card numbers, and then later add the features to set spending limits on cards. I would also work very closely with developers to see what timelines look like to implement. 

Given that generating virtual numbers is a new feature to Apple Card, I would add this to the Apple Card page on the Apple website. The current page is made up of many cards, and so I would design a card about virtual cards. Furthermore, given the marketing scope of the project, I would design other marketing assets to promote the new feature. 

Adding new feature messaging to website