Discover Your Best Solution – Three Types of Cloud-Based Instant Issuance Models

May 10, 2022

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


New Printing Option Makes Instant Issuance with Card@Once More Versatile

July 29, 2020

CPI Card Group® is excited to introduce Spectrum by Card@Once®, the company’s first retransfer printing solution for instant issuance. With the addition of Spectrum, issuers now have a premium Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) option for printing high quality debit and credit cards in branch and on demand to support an enhanced customer experience.

Spectrum is a premium, high definition retransfer printing solution with over-the-edge printing capabilities. Using the process of reverse image thermal transfer, Spectrum prints the entire card image onto thin substrate, then heat transfers the design to the card surface. The printer head never actually touches the card surface, allowing it to print in high definition with 600 dpi (dots per inch) image quality.

What this all means is that you get vibrant, high-quality printing across the entire card surface, creating images with long-lasting durability. The use of high definition retransfer technology makes Spectrum ideal for dynamic full-color printing.

When combined with CPI’s robust Card@Once® design library, Spectrum enables financial institutions to instantly issue cards featuring eye-catching, compelling designs. Banks or credit unions are able to select designs and images from the library, then either issue cards with a distinct look, or offer their cardholders a selection of visual options from which to choose.

Spectrum by Card@Once complements CPI’s standard printer option, Precision by Card@Once®. Both printers produce high quality cards to meet your cardholders’ immediate needs at new account opening or to reissue lost or stolen cards.  Whereas Precision is ideal for value-conscious issuers, Spectrum is the premium choice for financial institutions desiring superior print quality. If you and your cardholders are seeking the most vibrant, dynamic image quality, Spectrum is the choice for you!

With the introduction of Spectrum, the Card@Once® full-scale instant issuance solution is more powerful than ever. CPI’s state-of-the-art printers produce new cards within minutes. The cloud-based solution is supported by a full team of implementation coordinators and support specialists — and backed by our commitment to providing exceptional service, including 24/7 real-time support.

Enjoy the simplicity and flexibility of instant issuance with Card@Once from CPI®, now featuring a retransfer printing option with Spectrum by Card@Once.


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Written by:

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

FIS Payments One – Integration Enhances CPI’s Leading Card@Once® Instant Issuance Solution

June 23, 2020

Exciting news! CPI’s Card@Once is now integrated with FIS Payments One™, a comprehensive suite of payments solutions and a global leader in financial services and payments technology. This new and robust unified card processing platform promises to empower financial institutions by offering a superior banking experience.

This latest integration with the Payments One card servicing platform allows us to better service our mutual customers and offers an even more seamless end-to-end Card@Once instant issuance experience. Branches using this integration will be able to instantly print and issue fully activated EMV®, dual interface, and magnetic stripe cards in-branch and on-demand, giving their cardholders immediate buying power.

“CPI is very excited to offer Card@Once customers a simple, yet robust integrated experience with the Payments One platform,” says Megan Meek, Card@Once Integration Manager. “This is a significant opportunity for us to deliver innovative solutions to banks and credit unions that are sure to provide an exceptional customer experience and are easy for branch staff to implement and onboard.”

Card@Once is the first Software as a Service (SaaS) instant issuance solution in the market with over 20 established integrations, and serves over 1,600 financial institutions. This cloud-based solution works with an Internet connection - and is quick to implement, giving branches the ability to respond on-site to customer requests for new and replacement cards. CPI provides initial training during the implementation process while offering exceptional 24/7 real time support (from our U.S. facility). The solution features a Knowledge Base that conveniently features videos, webinars, and structured online courses for continued Card@Once user education via an online portal.




FIS Payments One™ is a registered trademark of FIS and its subsidiaries


Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

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

Card Design Makes for a Winning Instant Issuance Program

February 25, 2020

The design of cards plays an important role for banks and credit unions, serving as an extension of their brand, a way to connect with local community, a means to visually delight cardholders – or all of the above. This is why adopting a new solution like instant issuance, which allows cardholders to visit a branch and walk out with a new or replacement card in minutes, shouldn’t mean financial institutions have to compromise on the quality of their card design. In fact, through the right technology partner, issuers can see instant issuance become an extension of their centralized issuance programs, with high print quality designs further boosting the solution’s impact.

For customers using its Card@Once® solution, CPI Card Group® offers a robust card design library – allowing financial institutions to instantly issue cards that also feature eye-catching, high quality designs. Banks or credit unions are able to select designs and images from CPI’s Card@Once library, then either issue cards with a distinct look, or offer their cardholders a selection of visual options from which to choose.

For many smaller issuers without the resources to support in-house design capabilities or pay vendors for graphics services, Card@Once can serve as a highly cost-efficient value-add. Working with CPI, financial institutions can opt for designs printed and personalized on blank white card stock or preprinted in bulk. By conveniently bringing high print quality designs into the instant issuance equation, financial institutions can unlock remarkable branding and marketing possibilities and better compete for top-of-wallet status.

Whether it’s a standard, sleek look or imagery of animals, scenery, sports and more – issuers can combine card designs and instant issuance to connect with cardholders on a more meaningful level. Furthermore, there are benefits for financial institutions that choose to offer a batch of card designs and let cardholders pick the look of their new or replacement card themselves. The simple act of empowering a customer with choice – even if only between a handful of options – can bolster engagement and the connection they feel to their newly issued card.

All in all, Card@Once’s ability to combine instant issuance and innovative design options can make for truly impactful branch marketing and branding initiatives. However, even as a baseline, the ability to equip cardholders with instant purchasing power through a visually meaningful or resonant card can help financial institutions take the branch experience to the next level. For cardholders, getting a new or replacement card at a branch instantly when they need it is already a valuable convenience. But when that same card features a striking, unique design that gives cardholders a sense of exclusivity or personality – the convenience may feel a little more like magic.


Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

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

Streamlining Instant Issuance: 3 Benefits of Core Integrations

February 13, 2020

Core providers serving banks and credit unions are already in the business of their customers’ success. By adding instant issuance to their suite of technologies and services, they have the opportunity to take customer commitment one step further.

Whether you’re a core processor, platform or management systems provider, the value of integrating a cloud-based, end-to-end instant issuance solution with your offering can prove significant for the issuers you serve. The following three benefits show precisely why delivering instant issuance via core integration is a win-win-win – for you, your customers and their customers.

  1. Enhanced Customer Engagement

The ability to print and provide payment cards for customers onsite is a valuable capability for any financial institution, as the alternative is shipping via mail, which can take several days. By bringing instant issuance to issuers through a core integration, core providers allow them to respond quickly to customer requests for new and replacement cards. At a time when instant gratification is the norm, giving customers the ability to visit a branch and walk out with a new card – whether they’re a new accountholder, a member who lost their card or otherwise – is a critical convenience that strengthens engagement. Separately, it also frees up branch staff and creates a new touch point for customer interaction, giving them more time overall to spend serving customers. When customers can simply visit their branch when in need of a card, the branch staff can answer additional questions and provide related financial advice – potentially gaining an opportunity to deepen the customer relationship. For core providers, enabling these advantages for issuers helps them deepen their customer relationship.

  1. No Dual Entry

To achieve the singular goal of instantly issuing a card for immediate usage to cardholders, financial institutions are often required to manage card ordering and account maintenance from multiple locations, otherwise known as “dual entry.” Staff must handle another system and set of steps in the issuance process. Financial institutions that have instant issuance integrated with their core eliminate the extra steps of dual entry, providing them with a more seamless card issuance process while making for an accurate and quick delivery to customers.

  1. No Additional IT Headache

By integrating and streamlining instant issuance, core providers invest their IT resources to implement the solution through their core platform so that their customers can enjoy a more efficient experience – minimizing the need for IT resources from the financial institution or branch. A branch’s system is able to issue cards instantly through the core provider’s platform. And with the right integration partner, the entire program set-up and ongoing system maintenance for an instant issuance solution can be managed by the instant issuance provider. For a core provider’s customers, this means not having to dedicate any of their own IT or staff resources to support instant issuance – while still enjoying all its advantages.

Today, core providers across the country rely on Card@Once® from CPI Card Group® to extend the value of instant issuance to their customers. Card@Once is integrated with a number of cores and processors*, helping numerous banks and credit unions see remarkable cost-efficiencies and convenience at their branches.

*Integration requires the cooperation of the core provider.  Not all core platforms are available for integration.

Rob Dixon headshot

Written by:

Rob Dixon is the Director, Product and Business Development 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

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

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. ↪ CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CARD@ONCE

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. ↪ CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CARD@ONCE

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

Back to Basics – Software as a Service (SaaS)

August 16, 2018

Instant issuance is emerging as a key element in branch transformation to respond to the on-demand expectations of customers. Financial institutions are discovering that an in-branch instant issuance solution quickly delivers on service and speed, expediting cards into cardholder hands. However, questions often arise when choosing between delivery models.

There are two main categories of instant issuance: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where the software is a cloud-based “cloud” service and Software for Purchase (SFP), in which the institution owns the server and software. CPI highlights the differences between the two models in this white paper.

In brief, I have outlined how a SaaS instant issuance solution model works.

What is “Software as a Service”?
Software as a Service is a cloud-based application hosted by a third party and delivered via the internet. “Cloud-based” is an interchangeable term often used to indicate the software is stored in the “cloud” (on a third-party’s servers). Access to the software is gained through an online portal. Common examples of SaaS programs would be internet search engines, social media platforms, and an assortment of online tools, such as banking applications, payroll services, learning systems, service desks, and many others.

A SaaS instant issuance model offers the ability for financial institutions to use an internet connection to create and print a card order to a designated printer, in branch. The leading benefit of a SaaS solution, like CPI’s Card@Once®, is that there is no software or servers for the issuer to maintain – the solution provider securely manages it all. Once network settings are established, there is no need for additional IT staff or resources.

What network set up is needed for SaaS instant issuance?
The SaaS provider directs the settings to access their servers for branch printers to receive remote print commands. Typical network installations can require Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to ensure each printer has a unique IP address. A reputable instant issuance supplier will provide a set of instructions to access available internet ports, and will assist staff in establishing connectivity.

When a card print is requested, an encrypted message travels via the internet to the remote servers where calculations are performed and a secure print command is then sent out to branch printers.

Who is responsible for the keys?
The SaaS solution provider owns the server and Hardware Security Module (HSM). Key components ship securely from processors to the SaaS vendor and are downloaded by experienced key custodian teams. Keys are stored within facilities that meet PCI compliance for key control and the supplier accepts responsibility for security of the keys and software updates.

The importance of the responsibilities around cryptographic keys cannot be overemphasized. All financial institutions that offer payment cards arrange for encrypted keys from their processor for their specific Bank Identification Numbers (BINs). Production keys are required for each card print to calculate the correct values that appear on the card (i.e. CVV2 or security code that appears on the back of the card). Cryptographic keys must be correctly loaded and used for each print in order for cards to validate. Having a team of experts from a solution provider to handle the HSM and the keys is a major advantage.

What is a plug-and-play solution?
For banks and credit unions that have limited IT resources, a SaaS solution can be attractive because it offers “plug-and-play” availability. Typically, the term plug-and-play refers to a piece of hardware that can be used immediately upon plugging it in without additional programming.

With Card@Once, software programming is already complete, so printers arrive at the branch ready for an Ethernet connection to access the internet and a plug for an electrical outlet. For security, a specialized security key is preprogrammed to match the printer. The key ships in a separate package and must be used to verify authenticity. Once the verification step is completed, card printing can begin right away.

To contrast, with a SFP set-up, the delivery of the dedicated server, HSM and printers is the beginning of the programming process. The financial institution is then responsible for the install of the card printing software, the secure download of key components, all network implementation and the onboarding of employees.

In conclusion, it is important to note that the needs of every financial institution are different, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. However, for decision-makers tasked with finding an instant issuance solution that is the best fit, knowing these terms and having a deep understanding of the options can go a long way towards feeling confident about your decision.