The Jetsons Today: Instant Card Issuance

colorful cartoon panel of Jetson son with bottle
By Hal Cline

4 minutes

Getting their payment cards immediately meets members’ expectations, while cloud hosting provides operational benefits to credit unions.

Do you remember that classic cartoon series, “The Jetsons”? It was an amusing 1960s take on how we might live life in the future and, as it happens, it has held up surprisingly well.

George, Jane and their children were accustomed to getting everything they wanted at the touch of a button—from pizza for dinner to digital newspapers. Fast-forward 60 years, and it does feel as though virtually anything is available at the touch of a button. Today’s consumers, just like the Jetsons, expect to get whatever they want, whenever they want it. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend, driving skyrocketing demand for products and services at our fingertips, when we could not safely go get them.

When a credit union member requires a new credit or debit card, they don’t want to wait for it, either. They expect their financial institution to deliver as soon as possible—at the push of a button if you will.

While instant issuance of payments cards isn’t new, the value of this service has increased. Fiserv research finds that 58% of consumers agree it’s important to be able to get a card in a branch, and three in five instant issuance cardholders have recommended their financial institution to a friend. Waiting for a new card to arrive is often not an option, and credit unions that provide relevant, responsive experiences like instant issuance are meeting the service standard that today’s members have come to expect.

Cloudy with a 100% Chance of Instant Card Issuance

Instant issuance is here to stay, and how it’s delivered is evolving. Traditionally, instant issuance has been set up as an in-house model, where the instant issuance software, server and hardware security model are housed within a branch or data center, and the solution is integrated or interfaced with the core processing system.

Alternatively, it’s now available as a cloud-based, hosted solution operating mostly or entirely hosted in a service provider data center and accessed through a web portal. Cloud migration is a growing trend for financial institutions, and the Deloitte Digital Banking Report released late last year predicts financial institutions will increase investment in cloud services by 54% in 2021. Further, Aite Group reports that 85% of financial institutions expect speed to market to be the leading benefit of cloud migration.

Leveraging instant issuance as a hosted solution has many benefits. Certain capital expenditures, as well as large upfront infrastructure and ongoing software maintenance costs can be avoided. For smaller credit unions with limited IT resources, this can be particularly valuable. With hosted computing, the limitations of client-server environments are not applicable since the application and data are accessible from any computer via a web interface. Most importantly, cloud-based instant issuance is hosted in a secure environment that protects sensitive data, including customer information.

A credit union can enter card orders through its provider’s user interface or a secure web portal, and data is encrypted and submitted to a secure data center to generate card and chip personalization information. The data center, in turn, is connected via a secure virtual private network connection to each card printer. Encrypted data is then sent to a printer through secure transmission; the printer decrypts the message; and the card is printed. The satisfied cardholder then leaves the credit union with a fully personalized card.

Card stock inventory is managed through real-time tracking and auto-replenishment at the branch level, limiting in-branch warehouse needs.

The Host With the Most

With cloud-based instant issuance, configuration changes can be made to printers within minutes, with real-time status reports allowing for an uninterrupted, speedy response. Web portal education and training is provided, and ongoing user support is readily available. The equipment enables efficient card production through a variety of features, including patent-pending iON technology for faster card production, intelligent temperature control and driverless print technology. Helpful error messages minimize system downtime, activity logs document all errors and an administrator is automatically notified by email if a service interruption occurs. Daily self-tests are automatically performed and reported through email to prevent lapses in monitoring. Metrics and diagnostic tools track and ensure all machines connected to the network are performing at their peak.

An easy-to-use utility configures the equipment to meet a credit union’s specific needs. The utility enables simple service-test scheduling, customized email notifications, and effortless adaptation to internal IT changes.

With minimal upfront investment, installation that takes approximately eight to 10 weeks, no software to purchase and no annual licensing, providing instant issuance as a hosted solution is one of many ways that savvy credit unions are delivering exceptional consumer experiences. Instant card availability matters to members, and offering this service helps financial institutions increase customer loyalty, generate revenue, gain a competitive advantage, and drive activation and use rates. Additionally, a hosted solution offers the potential for increased profitability and reduces operational complexity and risk.

Hal Cline is director of business development, output solutions, for Fiserv, a CUES Supplier member headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

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