Cardholders Embrace Plastic Waste Upcycling

November 19, 2019

Consumers have a strong desire to address the Earth’s plastic waste problem. According to a CPI Card Group Consumer Insights Study, conducted by an independent research firm, 96 percent of respondents say they are “concerned” about plastic waste in the oceans, and 63 percent are “very concerned.” Forty-nine percent are already reducing their plastic usage by bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, while 47 percent choose to purchase items made with recycled materials1.

But there is confusion in the marketplace around the use of terms like recycled, upcycled and recovered.

For decades, recycling has been the most commonly used term, reflecting the growth of local municipal requirements for separating waste materials like plastic, newspapers, cardboard and glass from trash destined for the landfill.

According to Merriam-Webster, the term “recycle” is defined as: “to process materials or substances in order to regain material for human use.” Recently, “recycled” has come to mean the reuse of plastic or other discarded material in its same original form (e.g., plastic or glass bottles that are disinfected, relabeled, and reused).

Today, however, consumers and businesses can look beyond simple recycling in their efforts to repurpose waste materials. Certain materials like plastics can be “upcycled” in a different form than their original, such as a disposable plastic milk jug that is converted into material for constructing playground equipment.

Merriam-Webster defines “upcycle” as: “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item: to create an object of greater value from (a discarded object of lesser value).

Technology has matured to enable the upcycling of recovered ocean plastics into a wide variety of industries and applications, including consumer goods like eyeglass frames, buttons and zipper pulls.

Certain types of lightweight, strong recovered ocean plastics like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) have been upcycled and molded into large shapes for outdoor applications like furniture and playground equipment. This versatility has also allowed recovered ocean plastic HDPE to be used successfully in portable drink coolers and similar applications.

Likewise, there is an intriguing opportunity in payment cards. CPI has introduced Second Wave®, a payment card with a core made with recovered ocean-bound plastic to support consumers’ desire for more eco-friendly products and address card issuers’ sustainability commitments. CPI estimates that for every one million Second Wave® payment cards produced, over one ton of plastic will be diverted from entering the world’s oceans, waterways and shorelines.

If your financial institution is ready to offer EMVCo compliant and dual interface capable payment cards using recovered ocean-bound plastic, click here to find out more.

 

1CPI Card Group. “Consumer Insights Study,” conducted by an independent research firm, Schor Insights and Strategy, among 529 debit and credit card users between 18 and 65 years of age, November 1-2, 2018.

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

 

Transforming Ocean Waste into Payment Plastic

November 5, 2019

In response to rising consumer demand, card manufacturers and issuers are actively working to develop and provide more environmentally-conscious solutions to address the growing problem of plastic waste. The challenge for card manufacturers is in sourcing materials that are not only durable, but able to handle the complex security and technology requirements of today’s evolving payment standards, including both EMV® and contactless payment functionality.

One of the most exciting eco-friendlier alternatives to traditional first-use plastic is the use of recovered ocean-bound plastic, which addresses a serious environmental challenge by reducing the amount of plastic waste in ocean-bound areas, waterways and shorelines, while also meeting the demanding requirements of today’s diverse payment systems.

Recovered ocean-bound plastic comes in many conditions, shapes and forms, not all of which are suitable for use in card manufacturing. Plastic waste must first be converted back into a commercially viable form, such as flakes. Once converted, the recovered plastic can be used in a wide array of consumer and commercial products in place of first-use plastic.

Recovered ocean-bound plastics are already being used in several consumer applications, like shoes, eyeglass frames, buttons, and zipper pulls and this versatile material presents great opportunities in the payment card arena. Roughly six billion payment cards are manufactured each year, the vast majority of which use virgin PVC (polyvinyl chloride) for the card body construction. Incorporating recovered ocean-bound plastic into payment card construction can help divert a meaningful level of plastic waste from entering our oceans.

To meet this need, CPI has introduced Second Wave®, payment cards with cores made with recovered ocean-bound plastic.  Second Wave® offers the opportunity to make a difference in the effort to reduce the proliferation of first-use plastic, divert plastic waste from entering in the oceans and better serve a growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers.

CPI estimates that for every one million Second Wave® payment cards produced, over one ton of plastic will be diverted from entering the world’s oceans, waterways and shorelines.  Click here to learn more about Second Wave®.

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

 

Helping Our Oceans

October 24, 2019

The use of sustainable materials in payment cards is generating a lot of industry buzz. With roughly six billion plastic cards manufactured each year, the use of more eco-friendly materials like recovered ocean-bound plastic in card construction can significantly help address the issue of plastic waste entering our oceans.

According to a CPI Card Group Consumer Insights Study, conducted by an independent research firm, 83 percent of cardholders find the idea of a card made with recovered ocean plastic appealing1, and 58 percent would switch to a different issuer if they were to offer a recovered ocean plastic card with the same features and benefits.

But what does “recovered” actually mean?

The term “recovered” refers to waste materials collected from the environment and repurposed or “upcycled” for use in a different form, such as a used plastic milk jug that is converted into material for constructing playground equipment, glass melted into beads, or aluminum melted to create jewelry.

This contrasts with the term “recycled,” which refers to plastic or other discarded material that is reused in its same original form (e.g., reusable plastic or glass milk containers that are disinfected and relabeled).

According to CPI, recovered ocean-bound plastic is defined as plastic waste collected from land areas where the plastic would otherwise be highly likely to enter the ocean. It is typically recovered within 50 kilometers of a seashore, or near streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. CPI considers recovered ocean-bound plastic to be a subset of recovered ocean plastic, which also includes plastic debris that is collected directly from the ocean.

Scientists estimate between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic refuse enters the oceans annually, much of it in the form of single-use plastic.

In fact, if nothing changes, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastic than fish (by weight).  Ocean plastics threaten the delicate coral reef ecosystem, increasing the likelihood of devastating coral disease by a factor of 20. This is critical, as coral reefs feature an astounding array of biodiversity. Although coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor, they shelter more than a quarter of all marine life.

To help combat the ocean plastic waste challenge, CPI has introduced Second Wave® payment cards with a core made with recovered ocean-bound plastic.  These EMVCo compliant and dual interface capable payment cards can address issuers’ sustainability commitments, and align with consumers’ desire for more eco-friendly payment options.

If your financial institution is ready to consider a recovered ocean-bound plastic payment card program or other environmentally-conscious payment initiatives, click here to learn more about Second Wave®.

1 CPI Card Group. “Consumer Insights Study,” conducted by an independent research firm, Schor Insights and Strategy, among 529 debit and credit card users between 18 and 65 years of age, November 1-2, 2018

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

 

Experience and Service Make Card@Once® an Elevated SaaS Solution

October 8, 2019

All over the country, hundreds of banks and credit unions rely on Card@Once to provide customers with the convenience and satisfaction of an instantly issued card when they need it. Adopted through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, Card@Once has led the way in helping financial institutions enhance their customer experience for over 8 years – in fact, CPI Card Group was the first to market with this technology! And today, Card@Once is the strongest it’s ever been, thanks to three factors in particular: experience, service and security.

With a SaaS-based instant issuance solution, market experience makes a big difference. Card@Once – which has been recognized as an Enterprise Product of the Year – has brought cost-efficiency and convenience to thousands of small to mid-sized financial institutions across the U.S. The cloud-based platform is integrated with several cores and processors.*  Integration with a core platform eliminates the need for dual entry, saving time and ensuring accuracy.  The solution also supports manual entry without integration.  Card@Once is plug-and-play, and a quick-to-implement cloud-based system – requiring no additional IT resources from the financial institution. The program set-up and system maintenance are fully managed by CPI. This gives financial institutions all the advantages of being able to issue cards in minutes, with minimal costs and resources.**

Card@Once also supports dual interface card solutions which can be a major competitive differentiator for banks and credit unions, especially as consumer lifestyles evolve and new technologies including contactless payments grow ever-popular. Thanks to CPI’s history of payment technology expertise, Card@Once is both EMV® and dual interface capable – giving financial institutions a chance to get ahead of the curve.

Financial institutions using Card@Once also enjoy exceptional, 24/7 real-time support. In addition, the solution also features an online Training and Learning Center - which conveniently presents videos, webinars, and structured courses for continued Card@Once user education.   With readily-available resources for reference – CPI truly empowers financial institutions to make the most of their Card@Once experience.

Card@Once card personalization is also PCI-compliant and meets Visa and MasterCard® security requirements.**

Simply put: experience, service and security are key ingredients for financial institutions looking to get the most out of a SaaS-based instant issuance solution. Backed by CPI’s many years of market and compliance experience, Card@Once instant issuance can truly create value for banks and credit unions with minimal IT burden and 24/7 real-time support.  Our easy solution and exceptional service continue to demonstrate why it’s more than worth the investment.

 

*Integration requires the cooperation of the core provider.  Not all core platforms are available for integration.
**Certain PCI standards apply to the financial institution facility that are not within CPI Card Group's control.

Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

Rob Dixon is the Director, Product and Business Development at CPI Card Group

Upgrading Your Branch for the On-Demand Consumer

August 14, 2019

Today’s consumers have a growing appetite for instant gratification. The on-demand economy provides immediate accessibility like never before, changing how consumers see convenience with everything from shopping and dining to entertainment and transportation. To complement the growing popularity of immediate servicing, financial institutions are turning to instant card issuance. Through technology, the physical branch experience can become a more welcome part of customers’ lifestyle.

Convenience in the On-Demand Era

On-demand convenience is becoming more of the norm than the exception, making its way into many facets of consumers’ daily lives. People can hail a ride at a moment’s notice, have dinner delivered whenever they feel like it, pay bills with a few clicks or even apply for a mortgage in a matter of minutes. Collectively, these frictionless experiences are shifting the baseline of consumer expectations. This makes waiting to receive a new debit card in the mail feel extremely outdated by comparison.

With an instant issuance solution, a branch can print cards for customers onsite. This allows financial institutions to deliver a level of on-demand convenience consumers expect, while connecting customers to instant purchasing power at the same time. The seamless branch experience helps the banking public see their financial institution as not only “customer-first”, but also modern and tech-savvy. This can be a competitive advantage and support account holder loyalty and retention for financial institutions. Eighty-six percent of consumers will use their branches in the future and want human interaction when they do. Instant issuance allows just that while creating time for customer engagement.

The Need for Branch Transformation

Juniper Research forecasts that the number of global digital banking users will reach nearly 3 billion by 2021 – representing approximately 50 percent of adults globally. And while the percentage of consumers banking digitally continues to rise, J.D. Power and Associates states that three-quarters of consumers continue to use branches in addition to digital channels.  Additionally, “as Millennials grow older, they express increasing interest in visiting a physical location once they have exhausted their online research.”  Given consumers continue to prefer using traditional credit and debit cards for purchases, the opportunity for card issuance in branch may increase in-person visits to branches and provide the opportunity to answer questions and provide related financial advice.

No website or mobile app can put a new or replacement physical card into an accountholder’s hand as quickly as a branch with instant issuance.  While digital banking can support instant card issuance for mobile wallet usage, the ability to print physical cards on-site and on-demand, provides branches with a unique convenience that supports both cardholders’ preferred way to pay and at times, desires for financial information and advice.

A SaaS-based instant issuance solution with plug-and-play capabilities can be a simple and cost-effective way for banks or credit unions to evolve their branch experience while providing value that reinvigorates their brick-and-mortar operations and delivers customer traffic – which can make both dollars and sense.

Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

Rob Dixon is the Card@Once Product Manager at CPI Card Group.

Fintechs Get Physical

June 18, 2019

A surprising trend is developing among financial technology companies. Increasingly, popular smartphone financial apps like Acorns®, SoFi, and Venmo are offering physical payment cards, in a bid to both increase customer wallet share and capture additional income. This shift toward the tangible realm is the result of several dovetailing factors impacting the payment sector.

As with many stories, this one begins with millennials, who have led a recent resurgence in debit card usage. According to a 2017 Boston Fed study, debit cards account for 32 percent of payment transactions by US consumers over 18 years of age, ahead of both cash (27 percent) and credit cards (23 percent). Having watched their parents struggle through the financial crisis under mountains of debt, younger consumers are fearful of making the same mistakes. They see debit cards as a convenient way to manage spending without accumulating high-interest credit card balances.

Moreover, according to CB Insights, 73 percent of fintech customers aged 18 to 34 are open to trying new products and services from a fintech firm they already use, as compared with 60 percent across all age groups in the US.

The fintechs have taken notice. As digital wallets like Apple Pay wane in popularity (the percentage of consumers planning to use wallets grew by only two percent between December 2014 and September 2017, firms like SoFi, Venmo, PayPal, Square, and Acorns have individually partnered with community banks to release their own physical debit cards. Square was among the first movers, introducing its Cash Card in mid-2017. By June 2018, Square’s debit card was generating $3 billion in spend, a tripling in volume in just six months.The physical cards feature slick designs and innovative materials and allow cardholders to easily access their money via ATMs, brick-and-mortar retailers, and e-commerce sites across the country. They also allow fintechs the opportunity to extend their brand promise, control a larger slice of the customer relationship, and earn interchange income.

When Acorns announced its debit card offering in mid-2018, the micro-investing app’s loyal users were abuzz with excitement. Acorns’ debit card is bright green and features the company’s iconic acorn logo and oak tree design in a portrait orientation. Made with tungsten, the card is heavier than many metal cards currently on the market, offering users a satisfying “plunk” at the checkout counter. Reportedly, the firm had accepted over 35,000 pre-orders before the card began shipping in early December.

Clearly, this is a trend worth watching.

 
“Acorns"  is a registered trademarks of Acorns Grow, Inc.

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

 

The Promise of Metal: Not Just a Pretty Face

May 23, 2019

With a potential U.S. market of nearly 40 million cardholders, metal cards are moving beyond the exclusive domain of pricey rewards programs, and into the mainstream. Attracted by higher retention rates and the promise of adding a more affluent customer segment to their card portfolios, issuers from fintech startups to community banks are adding metal and metal-plastic hybrid flagship cards to their debit and credit card offerings. Yet metal cards continue to generate feelings of exclusivity, luxury, and sophistication among a certain type of cardholder.

Because they involve higher manufacturing expense, it’s important to understand the key ingredients of a successful metal card program before taking the leap. In a prior post, we explored the first of these critical attributes: the look. Today we discuss how the elements of weight and touch enhance perceived value and prove the beauty of metal cards is not only skin-deep.

Beyond the look

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of metal is its noticeable heft. Cardholders appreciate the “plunk” factor, the unique sound a metal card makes when pulled out of a wallet and dropped on the counter. At 20 grams and 10 grams respectively, encased tungsten and encased steel cards are several times the weight of plastic cards, imparting a sensation of enhanced opulence.

This is a key reason multiple issuers are enjoying success with metal cards. Chase reportedly burned through its inventory of premium metal cards shortly after launching its Sapphire Reserve program in 2017. It’s also why the wait list for Acorns’ new tungsten debit card grew to 35,000 before the card began shipping in December 2018.

Aside from heft, metal cards also offer cardholders a luxurious and pleasing tactile sensation. Encased metal cards, which embed metal between layers of PVC, introduces urbane design elements and dimensional depth to a traditional metal card, elevating its perceived quality. Using ink layers and special printing techniques, such cards feature a sleek texture while still offering custom colored cores to attract from the top of the wallet.

To stay one step ahead of consumer expectations, issuers should embrace continuous innovation in card design. Metal cards offer an intriguing and versatile palate on which to create a host of unique and attractive products.

CPI Card Group’s team of dedicated client services and research and development specialists enables financial institutions to seamlessly integrate metal cards into their offerings. Learn more about CPI Card Group’s full suite of end-to-end solutions for metal cards here.

Jack Jania

Written by:

Jack Jania is the VP Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

 

5 Ways Instant Issuance Can Help You Improve Revenue Opportunity

April 15, 2019

When financial institutions instantly issue new or replacement cards on-site, cardholders enjoy convenience and an improved overall branch experience. Beyond the impact that good customer service can bring, banks and credit unions of all sizes can see remarkable financial benefits. Below are five key ways banks and credit unions can improve their revenue opportunities with instant issuance.

1. Enhance Branch Efficiency

With instant issuance, banks can create a more frictionless process, allowing frontline staff to deliver cards quicker and create a more efficient customer care experience. Time and staff resources previously committed to the card order process can be funneled back into core productivity and face-to-face time with cardholders – making for happier employees, happier customers or members, efficient operations and the financial benefits that come with them.

2. Deliver Better Customer Experiences

Aiding both customer acquisition and retention, instant issuance is an integral way for branches to meet consumer expectations in the on-demand era. The technology becomes critical when cardholders need a replacement card. Instant issuance helps minimize any disruption to their lives, allowing them to get back to business as usual after a quick visit to their branch. A strong customer experience can pave the way for loyalty, and potentially, more customers or members and more business.

3. Ride the Contactless Wave

According to ABI Research, U.S. contactless card shipments will hit 173.5 million in 2021, a significant increase over the 25.7 million shipments in 2016. Issuers that can deliver dual interface EMV® cards via instant issuance will enjoy the competitive edge of providing a more frictionless payment experience. Contactless cards tend to be top-of-wallet, especially for small-dollar transactions – which helps to migrate spend from cash to card and further amplifies the interchange revenue potential from instant issuance.

4. Grant Immediate Purchasing Power

When cardholders place new, ready-to-use cards in their wallets immediately upon a branch visit, they gain the ability to start making purchases as soon as they step out – creating significant interchange revenue potential for banks and credit unions. Instant issuance has been shown to positively impact debit activation rates with increases of 4-10 percent, depending on branch and member demographics. Debit card programs can also see an average increase of 21 percent in monthly debit purchase transactions, depending on the mix of new and existing cardholders receiving a new card.

5. Reduce Mail Costs

Financial institutions that implement instant issuance to expedite cards into cardholder hands while the customer or member is onsite can reduce their mail-related costs, seeing savings upwards of $1 per card. By offering cards to new accountholders and replacement cards to current customers, the cost-savings over time can be substantial. In addition, both the institution and the cardholder avoid the costs associated with mail delays or card interception.

Interested in offering in-branch instant card issuance to your cardholders? CPI Card Group’s team of dedicated client services specialists are here to help. Learn more about instant issuance here or see more about Card@Once here.

Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

Rob Dixon is the Director, Product and Business Development at CPI Card Group

Card@Once Instant Issuance Wins Silver for Best in Biz “Enterprise Product of the Year”

March 25, 2019

Recognizing the importance of instant issuance in today’s financial marketplace, the Best in Biz Awards recently named CPI Card Group’s innovative Card@Once solution a 2018 silver winner in the Enterprise Product of the Year – All Others category.

The Best in Biz Awards is the only business awards program judged by an independent panel of prominent reporters and editors from top-tier business publications including the Associated Press, Businessweek, CNET, Fast Company, Financial Times, Inc., Forbes, Fortune, Reuters, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among others. Past award winners have included household names like AT&T, Aflac, Microsoft, Sheraton, Eastman, Ernst & Young, and Hewlett-Packard.

The 8th annual Best in Biz Awards recognized CPI’s Card@Once as a secure, cloud-based instant issuance solution that is both quick to deploy and easy to use.

As a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, Card@Once allows issuers to instantly print magnetic stripe, EMV® and dual interface debit and credit cards in the branch without requiring expensive on-premises software or servers. CPI manages all IT support and updates, allowing the financial institution to focus solely on serving the needs of its cardholders with minimal upfront investment and no annual licensing fees. PCI-compliant1, Card@Once offers issuers a competitive differentiator that helps improve their cardholder experience.

The benefits of instant issuance are well-established. It allows financial institutions to serve their cardholders’ most urgent needs, while also reducing the substantial costs associated with mailing or shipping cards, with a savings of up to $1 per card. Instant issuance has also been shown to improve debit card activation rates by between 4 and 10 percent depending on branch and cardholder demographics, and to increase monthly debit purchase transactions by an average of 21 percent, depending on the mix of new and existing cardholders receiving the card.

Card@Once also allows issuers to respond effectively to instances of fraud and card compromise. In 2017, Indiana-based Farmers & Merchants Bank needed to rapidly reissue nearly 800 debit cards in response to cardholders effected by card data compromise. Thanks to the Card@Once instant issuance solution, the Bank was able to immediately meet this critical need, reissuing most cards within a 24-hour window, while simultaneously converting its cardholders to the EMV chip-enabled standard.

Interested in offering in-branch instant card issuance to your cardholders? CPI Card Group’s team of dedicated client services specialists are here to help. Learn more about instant issuance here or see more about Card@Once here.

1Certain PCI standards apply to the financial institution facility that are not within CPI Card Group's control.

Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

Rob Dixon is the Director, Product and Business Development at CPI Card Group

The Promise of Metal: Capitalizing on First Impressions

March 14, 2019

Metal cards have caught the eye of consumers in recent years. A certain segment of cardholder craves the feelings of exclusivity, luxury, and sophistication that metal cards provide. Attracted by the prospect of adding new, affluent cardholders, along with the promise of strong retention, many financial institutions are looking to add metal card options to their portfolios. But the higher costs involved in manufacturing metal cards is giving some issuers pause. Before you take the leap, it’s important to understand the key ingredients of a successful metal card program. In this post, we discuss the first of these important aspects: the look.

Two metal cards, one black, one white

Heavy on design

Aside from the noticeable heft and recognizable click when a metal card meets a hard surface, the naturally rich, unique look of the materials is one of the most appealing aspects of these cards. In the past, cards created using alloys offered a more limited design palate. Today, innovations in manufacturing have produced fusions of metal and plastic, allowing issuers to combine many of the same treatments available on plastic with the weight and rigidity of a metal component.

Elaborate design and personalization features offer issuers an emerging world of possibility in metal. The key is to view metal as a starting point – a blank canvas on which to create an immersive, customized cardholder experience that fully reflects your brand. By leveraging distinctive design features like matte coatings, spot UV gloss, and bright color treatments, you can instill your cardholders with a sense of pride and exclusivity. Laser personalization completes the front or back of the card. Want to read more about card design? Click here for our Back-to-Basics blog on Card Design.

Metal Cards Have the Edge

Finally, the design elements for metal cards are completed with a distinctive edge. For encased cards, issuers can take advantage of colored-edge options to complement the design, allowing for a gleaming exposed edge from its spot at the top of the wallet. Differentiation at the edge can enhance an issuer’s brand identity as well as create a look that stands out.

For financial institutions to remain on the forefront of consumer taste and expectations, they should not only provide the products their cardholders demand but also anticipate their desires through continuous innovation. Disrupting the status quo through the expanding possibilities of a metal card can redefine cardholder preferences.

Building a metal card program with an experienced partner like CPI Card Group enables financial institutions to seamlessly integrate metal cards into their offerings through a team of dedicated client services and research and development specialists. Learn more about CPI Card Group’s full suite of end-to-end solutions for metal cards here.

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.