BankAtlantic, one of the largest financial institutions in Florida, has upgraded its instant card-issuance technology to offer unembossed cards at all 100 of its branches, according to bank and technology provider Dynamic Card Solutions.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based institution is using the service to produce instant debit MasterCards. The institution did not disclose how many cards it issues.

Both Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide have approved the global issuance of unembossed (or thermal flat card printing) cards on both the front and back of the plastic, says Ron Zanotti, Dynamic Card Solutions senior vice president.

“Previously, they had approved unembossing on the front of gift cards in 2005, but rear indent printing of the CVV2/CVC2 security values was still required,” Zanotti explains. “So the new changes were to expand beyond gift cards to include all debit and credit cards and unembossed printing on both sides.”

The primary reason Dynamic Card chose to support unembossed cards was that issuers wanted to instant-issue their debit and credit cards in branches, and it was easier and more affordable to use unembossed cards, he says.

Issuing unembossed cards enables issuers to use just one type of card stock for printing several styles of cards. In doing so, it can reduce costs by about 15% for card stock and production compared with issuing embossed cards, BankAtlantic and Dynamic Card noted in a news release.

To understand the benefits of issuing unembossed cards, one must first compare it with what is involved instantly issuing embossed cards, says Zanotti.

With embossed cards, issuers start with preprinted plastics. “If you want to issue multiple card products at the branch, you have to store, balance and secure multiple preprinted card stocks,” he says. “Plus you have to manually insert the correct preprinted card stock in the machine when that card type is being requested or produced.”

But with unembossed cards, a bank can print all of the card images and personalization data for all card types starting from one blank card stock, so it does not have to manually insert cards when issuing a variety of different card products. Moreover, the printers needed to produce an unembossed card are smaller, quieter, less expensive and more reliable compared with embossers, Zanotti says.

The cost savings are numerous, says Zanotti. “The hardware, hardware maintenance, and cost to ship, store, secure and balance the card stock is less expensive with instant issuance of unembossed cards,” he says.

The upgraded printer of unembossed cards also provides more convenience to customers, Steven Goldstein, BankAtlantic vice president of product and market services, tells PaymentsSource. “With instant issue, BankAtlantic customers can receive a debit card within five minutes of sitting down with a personal banking representative,” he says. “Whether applying for a new card or replacing a lost or stolen card, customers no longer have to wait weeks. Rather, they walk out of the bank with their new cards in their wallets.” 

The new printing technology also helps the bank personalize cards more easily.

“With this next generation of technology–unembossed cards–BankAtlantic now has the ability to offer and produce from branded white stock a variety of images that cardholders can select for their card background, including special local images specific to their regions,” says Goldstein. “This ‘ownership’ to the card helps increase loyalty and usage, since research shows cardholders are more likely to keep the cards top of wallet that they are most proud of and attached to.”

BankAtlantic did not say how much it will save by using only one kind of card stock.

The major advantage of issuing unembossed cards at bank branches is cost savings on card stock, acknowledges Adil Moussa, an analyst at Boston-based Aite Group. “There is definitely an advantage to the issuer to be able to instantly issue unembossed cards,” he says.

Instantly issuing cards also provides better service to the customer, who no longer has to wait for a bankcard in the mail, Moussa says.

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