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Instant Issuance: From Trend to Necessity in an On-Demand World

By Rob Dixon, Product Manager, CPI Card Group

Rob Dixon, Product Manager, CPI Card Group

Since its inception roughly ten years ago, instant issuance has largely been leveraged as a strategic differentiator for financial institutions committed to providing superior customer service through the branch environment. And while the ability to produce cards within the branch, on demand, has always produced a “wow factor” with consumers, financial institutions have tended to view instant issuance as more of a “nice to have” than a “need to have” program. This is simply no longer the case. Issuers are now recognizing the role that instant issuance plays in everything from card data breach response, to successful EMV implementation and rollout, to the transformation of the branch into more of an advisory environment. Instant issuance is no longer viewed as a trendy program, but rather a “must-have” for all financial institutions looking to remain competitive within the changing landscape.

Card transaction revenue is an important component of financial institutions’ overall profitability and in supporting that, instant issuance plays a key role. In simplest terms, the faster an issuer can get a card to its consumer, the better; as on average, account holders use their cards within eight hours of receiving them. With a traditional, central issuance model, consumers must wait an average of 7-10 days to receive their cards and even then, data suggests that only 90 percent are ultimately activated.

“More and more, consumers seek greater levels of convenience and expect their financial institutions to provide new and innovative technologies”

This ability to meet customer need, on demand through the branch environment, resonates particularly well with younger, millennial consumers. Our research shows millennials are nine times more likely to open an account if they are shown how quickly they will be able to use their debit or credit card at the very beginning of the account opening process. Millennials, as a group, are accustomed to immediate access to goods and information and issuers must be able to cater to these consumer preferences if they are to grow their market share among younger consumers. A recent Gallop poll indicated that only 31 percent of millennial customers are fully engaged and loyalto their financial institutions compared to 95 percent with their wireless providers. Issuers must adapt to meet the expectations of a generation of consumers that value convenienceand are more likely to switch financial institutions if they can find better technology offerings elsewhere.

Fraud – The New Normal

Beyond the service benefit of instant issuance, financial institutions are finding that the in-branch solution is one of the most effective tools for managing fraud. Today, it seems, consumers can be compromised through data breaches via any retailer, restaurant or fueling station, among many other avenues. This, in turn, impacts financial institutions that must reissue new cards for affected customers. An instant issuance program enables issuers to more cost effectively provide replacement cards for consumers through both individual and batch card production at the branch. This averts the risk of delivering new cards to consumers through unsecured mailboxes and provides issuers the opportunity to educate customers on the use of the card and the fraud protection strategy of EMV.

The value of this face-to-face level of interaction with customers cannot be overstated. Financial institutions solidify customer loyalty when they are able to provide exceptional service paired with expert advice. Whether it is educating customers on the EMV transition, mobile wallets, or finding opportunities to provide them with additional banking services, instant issuance is one of the best tools to drive traffic to the branch where these conversations can take place. As financial institutions face increased competition from online systems and new, “virtual”payment competitors, they must invest in programs that continue to promote deeper levels of customer engagement.

More and more, consumers seek greater levels of convenience and expect their financial institutions to provide new and innovative technologies that keep pace with the technological-driven world in which they live. Instant issuance provides meaningful benefits to both customers and issuers alike. Customers gain quicker access to their funds and develop a better relationship with their financial institutions. Financial institutions are able to more securely provide cards to their customers and benefit from quicker activation rates. As with many innovations, what once was viewed as a trend has now become a necessity and as financial institutions continue to evolve to meet the needs of their customers, instant issuance will continue to play a key role in that evolution.

EMV is a registered trademark or trademark of EMVCo LLC in the United States and other countries.

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