In a recent survey conducted by Entrust across 10+ countries, banks, payment companies, and credit unions overwhelmingly reported that flat card technology has accelerated and shifted into overdrive. What may have been originally considered as an “unimpressive” change to the look of traditional embossing, flat cards have evolved into a financial issuance mainstay with astonishing designs and an elegant chic finish. Here we will explore the magnitude of this shift, input drivers, outputs, and future indicators.

Flat Card Adopters

Most interestingly, the survey highlights an astonishing 77% of surveyed financial institutions are actively issuing flat cards today. North America and Europe lead the way as they are typically the first global adopters of innovative technology with large banking headquarters on both continents.

Assuming similar technology adoption rates in this industry, we can expect a proportional upward trend and transition to flat card in the coming years. Even though embossed cards maintain some geographic and niche market presence – for example in Africa and the Middle East – the paradigm shift to flat technology has been further strengthened by significant gains in options for customization and efficiency.

Flat Card Technology Adoption Drivers

Equally compelling, when asked about the reason organizations choose to move to flat card, 73% of survey respondents identified two key components: enhanced branding opportunities and the modernization of traditional designs. Additionally, 60% cited either reduced cost and/or increased efficiency as the secondary driver, followed by maintaining a competitive advantage, staying relevant in the marketplace, and consumer demand.

When evaluating the factors influencing their decision to adopt flat card technology, respondents were almost evenly split between competitors driving the technology and marketing-driven requests in their go-to-market strategy, with competitors holding a slight edge in this regard. More specifically:

  • Among project management respondents, 36% attributed adoption to the need to stay competitive, while 26% attributed it to marketing directives.
  • Among those in payment roles, 43% indicated that adoption resulted from marketing department requests, with 30% attributing it to competitive pressure.

An alternative interpretation of the data reveals that internal requests, originating from marketing and operations, drove slightly over half of the adoptions, accounting for 51%, surpassing the influence of external factors such as competition (36%) and customer requests (9%). It is worth mentioning that adoption rates in this context are comparative within the nature of the survey itself and migration to innovative technologies typically includes elevated levels of consumer demand early in the product roadmap process.

Flat Card Technology Features

As financial institutions and fintechs migrate to flat card, the value proposition continues to become clearer. Customers demand fresh designs, a customizable platform, and the ability to connect with loyalty programs or niche movements like eco-friendly formats. Flat cards are delivering. Period.

When asked about the customizable features and benefits offered by flat cards, respondents cited the following as the most frequently utilized within their issuance arsenal:

  1. Personalization on the card’s back, allowing the entire card front for financial institutions to highlight their brand
  2. Vertical card orientation
  3. Metallic personalization
  4. Enhanced personal account number (PAN) features

Flat Card Technology Outputs

Simply, flat card drives business. Upon adoption of flat cards, 77% of respondents saw an increase in transaction volumes, including 61% of those who experienced a 1%-25% increase, and 15% realizing greater than 25% growth by volume. This is the most compelling evidence for any issuer considering the value proposition of switching to flat cards, making it nearly impossible not to draw significant conclusions about ROI and the decision to switch without delay.

The secondary responses in this same category paint a beautiful picture – flat cards save money. 64% saw machine efficiencies and additional cost savings, while another 40% cited third-party issuance efficiencies.

For anyone needing a reason to immediately evaluate the impact of flat cards on their business and, in turn, customer satisfaction, this is where the undeniable evidence is crystal clear. Banks that have adopted flat card are experiencing higher transaction volumes and lower costs. The icing on the cake? 92% highlight their enhanced capacity for personalized customization. Can it get any better than this?

Flat Card Future Predictors

Can we predict the future of flat card? Not quite. However, our survey respondents are certainly leading us down a favorable path. For those financial institutions who are not currently issuing flat cards, 56% plan to in the next two years, while 35% are exploring options to consider this newer technology.

A final thought on future predictors: 61% of those who have not adopted flat card have invested recently in new issuance systems. Although we do not know exactly what type of equipment or systems, this highlights the simple fact that options exist and machine lifecycles are long. We also know that certain geographies or regions continue to demonstrate some demand for traditional embossed cards – they play a significant role in perceived value and probably will continue to do so for the near future.

Entrust continues to support the flat card movement, bridging the gap between personalization equipment, secure customer interactions, and the latest technology and innovations in high-volume central and instant financial issuance for this technology. Our portfolio of solutions including Entrust Durable Graphics, Drop on Demand, Artista Desktop, Artista VHD, and Sigma DS4 Light Curing Module continue to offer product and platform flexibility built around flat card opportunities.

For more information on Entrust issuance and flat card flexibility, visit our website.