With today’s immediate gratification mindset, cardholders expect financial institutions (FIs) to be able to meet their needs with speed and convenience, and they want to be able to interact or conduct business in a branch. In fact, a 2021 CivicScience report found that the biggest determinant for choosing an FI remains how close a physical branch is to a customer’s or member’s home. With these expectations factored in, it’s no wonder instant issuance continues to grow as a popular option. [A]n Aite-Novarica survey of 139 banks and credit unions found that 63% of them currently offer either in-house or SaaS-based in-branch instant issuance.
This market expansion has led to new instant issuance models that are as diverse as the individual needs and interests of the institutions they serve. An FI must balance cardholder expectations against broader business objectives, and FIs must consider factors such as branch strategy, cost, and operational and training needs in establishing their program. With that in mind, three primary cloud-based instant issuance models have emerged. All of these models provide the benefits of a SaaS approach that enables more streamlined implementation without the need for bank IT integration.
- Hub-and-spoke instant issuance: In this model, the FI establishes “hub” locations. These hubs, in turn, provide service to other branches (i.e., “spokes”) by printing cards and mailing them for cardholder pick-up. This approach requires less equipment and less staff training as only select locations have card issuance capabilities, although the cardholder won’t be able to leave a “spoke” branch with a card in hand at the time of the initial request.
- Branch-specific instant issuance: Each branch has its own card printer, and the branch staff has been trained on the process so that customers and members can receive their cards onsite at the time of the request. This option involves higher up-front investment, but it offers a consistent, faster response to a cardholder's need.
- Central office instant issuance: A consolidated offering, this model empowers the FI’s call center to manage card issuance. The call center takes the request, oversees printing, and mails it out to the cardholder’s branch. It creates a centralized, cost-effective offering, but it may increase the time it takes for the card to reach the customer or member.
Choosing the right instant issuance model
To choose the right model and address cascading details, FIs need an experienced, knowledgeable provider to help them navigate the decision process. For example, beyond the model itself, FIs must consider whether to select a high-definition retransfer printer or a direct-to-card printer. That answer requires the FI to consider expected volume, brand requirements and budget. A strategic supplier can help them to determine the right fit for their priorities.
And what happens if a printer malfunctions or a staff person has an issue? Live, 24/7 customer service enables a faster response without having to submit a ticket and wait for a call back within a given service level agreement timeframe. Access to this type of customer service allows the FI to problem solve behind the scenes, so customers experience more seamless front-end customer service that effectively meets their expectations.
Clearly, in instant issuance programs, details matter. And as the market continues to evolve, programs will grow in their complexity. Having a knowledgeable provider who understands the intricacies and is equipped to meet them will go a long way toward ensuring the program’s success.
Rob Dixon is the Director, Product and Business Development at CPI Card Group