The Future is Now: Dual-Interface Instant Issuance is Here Today

February 28, 2019

The Future is Now: Dual-Interface Instant Issuance is Here Today

The convergence of two significant consumer trends is impacting the world of payments: cardholders’ need for immediate card delivery and their desire for the versatility and convenience of contactless transactions.

For small- and mid-sized financial institutions, these trends present both challenge and opportunity. In an age of instant gratification, cardholders will no longer wait to receive a new debit card in the mail. Financial institutions that already offer instant issuance of debit cards in the branch are seeing increases in debit activation rates of 4-10 percent, depending on branch and cardholder demographics, and an average increase of 21 percent in monthly debit purchase transactions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is slowly shifting toward contactless as cardholders seek a faster, more convenient experience at the point of sale. Contactless card shipments are increasing to meet growing demand both domestically and world-wide. According to ABI Research, U.S. contactless card shipments are projected to reach 196.8 million in 2021, a more-than sevenfold increase over the 25.7 million shipments in 20161.

Embedded with both a chip and antenna to enable contact transactions (inserted or swiped at payment terminals) and contactless transactions (waved at payment terminals), dual-interface cards are expected to account for 80 percent of total global contactless transactions in 2019.

Instant Issuance Dual Interface cards

With the move toward increasing availability of contactless transactions in the marketplace, small- and mid-sized issuers are looking for ways to provide their customers convenience at the branch as well as at point-of-sale. These institutions can provide both, through instant issuance of dual-interface cards.

By partnering with the right provider that offers a fully-supported, Software as a Service (SaaS)-based instant issuance solution with plug-and-play capability*, financial institutions can quickly and cost-effectively reap the benefits of this emerging technology without burdening their own resources and staff. In addition, instant issuance technology provides mail-related cost-savings of up to $1 per card.

CPI Card Group has been offering dual-interface cards on our secure, affordable Card@Once instant issuance solution for nearly two years. To learn more about CPI’s Card@Once solution, click here.


1 “Payment & Banking Card Technologies Report,” ABI Research, 1Q 2018
*Printers are shipped directly to each branch location, after a short implementation period. 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, Product Manager for Instant Issuance at CPI Card Group.

Solving for the On the Go Lifestyle

January 7, 2019

Today’s “on-the-go” cardholders expect to be able to pay for goods and services quickly, conveniently and with minimal friction.


While debit, credit and cash remain consumers’ preferred ways to pay, new contactless capabilities are introducing enhanced convenience to payment cards through dual interface technology.  ABI Research estimates that U.S. dual interface credit and debit issuance is projected to rise from 71.1 million in 2018 to 234.4 million by 2021 – a 230% increase.


Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more comfortable with wearables and payment objects. According to a CPI study conducted by an independent research firm, 65 percent of cardholders find the idea of tapping an object either “very appealing” or “somewhat appealing,” with only 17 percent rejecting the concept.*

Fortunately, financial institutions have a variety of ways to meet their cardholders’ needs, including:

  • Speed: Today’s cardholder has high expectations for a frictionless, fast payment experience, whether online or at the point of sale. Contactless cards and payment objects support this need by helping to speed up the checkout process.Speed also plays a role in how fast a cardholder can receive or replace their payment method if lost or stolen, and in this regard instant issuance is a flexible and efficient solution. Financial institutions that offer instant issuance of debit cards in the branch are seeing increases in debit activation rates of 4 to 10 percent, depending on market and customer demographics.  Additionally, instantly issued debit cards see a 32% increase in usage in the first 30 days compared to those sent by mail.
  • Security: A wealth of current and emerging solutions are available today to address cardholders’ and issuers’ fraud and security concerns. Beyond EMV, which is a more secure choice than magnetic stripe at the point of sale, new solutions like dynamic CVV address the growing threat of card-not-present (CNP) fraud.In recent years, biometrics have become ubiquitous on mobile devices, first through fingerprint recognition and more recently with the introduction of facial and iris recognition on the latest Android and Apple® iOS devices (computers, computer software, computer peripherals, etc.). Mastercard® introduced at-home biometric card registration in 2018, offering cardholders the ability to register their fingerprints from the comfort of their living rooms.

To maintain long-term, loyal relationships with their cardholders, issuers must respond to their demands for convenience, speed and security. CPI Card Group® has the solutions to meet these needs. If you are ready to implement a comprehensive payment program, contact us today, or visit:


*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.

Android is a trademark of Google LLC.

Apple is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated

Jack Jania

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


Back to Basics – Card Design

July 19, 2018

Cards are everywhere — relied on to purchase goods, grant access to buildings or memberships, earn brand loyalty points, discounts, and more. Companies can visually enhance cards to appeal to a wide audience, inspiring usage while creating a preferred, top-of-wallet experience. Card designers are able to create a product used routinely in everyday life and capture the vibe of brand, a company’s messaging, or reflection of their audience. However, the personnel most often charged with developing and approving card program designs, typically, are not the card designers. As a guide, below is a back-to-basics breakdown of an approach to the card design process.

A creative brainstorming session is essential to the beginning of any card design. Take a look at what is inspiring and think about how to apply it to card design. The creative brainstorm can pull from a variety of items, such as the geometric pattern in the architecture on a building, the texture of a piece of metal, or the sparkle or shine of a car. This early stage in the process is the time to evaluate design trends and determine what should apply to your card design. Often, a mood board is created to narrow down concepts for the card design. A mood board is an arrangement of different inspiration points (photos, colors, and swatches). From there, you can see which elements work together and incorporate into the card design, and even, determine placement of these elements on the card.


Choosing materials
Once the creative direction is defined, it is time to move to material selection. Material selection influences the unique characteristics of a card, such as a colored or metal edge, added weight and rigidity, a reflective foil appearance, or a unique visual effect created by a color-shifting pigment or spot gloss. Material choices also create texture and can be used to highlight effects when the card is tilted in the light, while creating a tactile experience affecting how the card feels in the hand.


It is important to remember, however, the goal is to create a product crafted for both form and function – a valuable product that can bear significant importance to a cardholder. From premium metal cards to gift cards, to dual interface and technology cards, each card has a purpose and it is important for the design to complement its functionality while resonating with the user. For example, if the card is intended to be a dual interface EMV payment card, choose materials that maintain the integrity and functionality of the technology. Ultimately, the card needs to be built from the correct materials to meet International Standards Organization (ISO) specifications and brand association guidelines to ensure it can swipe, dip, scan and wave as intended.


As material selections are determined and the card moves into manufacturing, this is where it all comes together. Manufacturing decisions should be made with the mindset of ensuring that a card can be produced successfully for a reasonable cost. For instance, once the card exists, how will it be customized for the end user? Using a supplier that can produce cards and personalize them is a major advantage. However, in the case where a card is manufactured separately from the personalization bureau, the two entities will have to work together to manufacture a final product.

If personalization is required, this is the time to decide on the elements that make each card unique to the individual cardholder. If there is a cardholder name, will that name be embossed, flat, or laser printed? Perhaps the designer prepared for one of the new trends such as vertical cards or personalization on the back. This is a great opportunity to “expand the canvas” of the card to include custom carriers and materials that carry the design through, as well.

Outside of the card itself, considerations need to be made about how the card will reach the cardholder. What sort of packaging will it have? Will it go through automated processes to fit into a package, mailer or envelope, or does the card need to be securely displayed in a retail setting? The only limit to packaging options are imagination and budget. Truly high-end experiences can be created for special cardholders with hand-packaged boxes, cartons and priority delivery.

Card design does not end with the graphics; the card is a product where materials and craftsmanship are important to the success of the end product. The experience of receiving a card should be exciting and inspire the end user to use the card again and again. This is true regardless of whether the card is received via mail from a financial institution, issued instantly, or purchased from a retail outlet as a prepaid or gift card. A recipient who is delighted by the way their card looks and performs benefits from the time and attention applied to the design, and that happy experience becomes a reflection of the brand, as well.

Developing a card can feel like a lot of pressure for those charged with the design. However, if the project is approached with the steps from initial creative brainstorming, to material selection, manufacturability and distribution, ultimately there will be a fully functioning, beautiful, and hopefully, valued card product in the cardholder’s hands.

Watch for more back-to-basics explanations and other topics on CPI’s blog: and read our dual interface white paper “Catching the Dual Interface Wave”

Leave any comments, questions or suggestions in the box below.

Written by:

Megan Bogard is the Design Manager at CPI Card Group.

Back to Basics – Dual Interface

June 20, 2018

We get many questions from people about dual interface cards and what happens during a transaction, such as, “When you tap a dual interface card, what is actually happening?” I was asked to go back-to-basics and reveal what happens behind the scenes of a dual interface tap or wave. What if I were to tell you by the time a dual interface card is tapped, all the information between card and reader has already been exchanged? The End. Well, that may make for the shortest blogging career on record, so instead let us take some time to examine what happens during the time a customer is reaching out to make a contactless payment.

Starting from the perspective of the payment terminal, the common card reader in the grocery store checkout line is operating at or near a radio frequency of 13.56MHz. Considered “high frequency,” 13.56MHz compares to an amateur ham-radio operation; higher than AM radio waves, but not as high as FM radio or television broadcasts. When activated, the card reader will produce an alternating magnetic radio field, looking to establish contact with a payment object. “Payment objects” include a variety of devices such as phones, watches, cards or other technologies with payment data; but for now, we’ll focus on cards. Before the data can be received, the card reader has to do three things: establish contact with the card, open a secure communication channel, and then negotiate the communication speed with the card. Finally, the terminal finds the EMV application on the chip and starts reading the data tags to get directions for handling the transaction.

Let us flip our perspective to focus on what is happening with cards during a payment transaction. Cards may also be referred to as “proximity cards,” which are smart cards that become active when in proximity to a card reader, and can be either pure contactless or dual interface. These cards are designed to meet ISO standards. Proximity cards have an embedded antenna that functions at or near a frequency of 13.56 MHz. When a card approaches the radio field of a reader, energy from the reader crosses the antenna in the card and generates a current flow. Usually the needed power level is achieved when the card is within 4 cm of the reader, which causes the chip to come alive to transmit its data.

As the cardholder extends the card towards the terminal, the radio frequency emitted from the reader inductively couples to the antenna in the card and turns on the chip. The card is a passive receiver of energy, harvesting what is needed for the chip with no additional power source required from the card itself. Now the chip is on and ready to share its stored information.

The card waits for the first command from the terminal, and then responds with an “answer.” The terminal finds the EMV application and reads the data tags on the chip to get directions for handling the transaction. Data tags are bits of accountholder information encrypted and securely stored on the EMV chip. Some you would expect, such as cardholder name, expiration date of the card, or primary account number, and others are more obscure, as in “card risk management data object list” (there are two of those!). A complete list can feature more than 30 separate data tags.

So far, the chip has come alive and is transmitting its data tags to the terminal – all in about a half of a second. The cardholder is still moving the card towards the terminal at this point. The reader will use information from the card to determine if the card should be declined, if it should go online to get authorization from the core processor, or if it can be accepted as an offline transaction. If it requires online authorization, an Authorization Request Cryptogram (ARQC) will be sent to the host system for final card validation. The host (core processor) calculates an Authorization Response Cryptogram (ARPC) and sends it back to validate the issuer.

After these two additional snippets of data are exchanged, the card is close enough for a physical tap. As the light flashes and the card reader emits a beep, the cardholder can safely return the card to their wallet because even as they withdraw the card, the transaction is already complete. The entire transaction process of waving the dual interface card usually takes around one second in real time.

Watch for more back-to-basics explanations and other topics on CPI’s blog: and read our dual interface white paper “Catching the Dual Interface Wave

Leave any comments, questions or suggestions in the box below.

Written by:

Barry Mosteller is the Director of R&D at CPI Card Group.