The Point

Meet Consumer Expectations Securely With Instant Issuance

Aug  16 
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Chris Chronis  Director, Product Marketing, Output Solutions, Fiserv 

Fueled by consumer expectations, instant card issuance continues to expand to branches throughout the country. In fact, Aite Group recently estimated the number of U.S. branches using the technology will grow from 46,444 this year to 67,075 in 2021. Still, one major bank recently went the other direction, citing fraud concerns for its decision to stop offering the service.

I think there are many reasons to believe the bank's decision marks an exception rather than the rule. For evidence, look no further than consumers' heightened expectations for their branch experience. They want the same speed and convenience they get through digital channels, the promise of security and the technology that matches the speed of their lives.

Giving consumers activated cards when they walk into the branch means people can start using them as soon as they walk out the door.

Those expectations are more than a trend; they're the reality of financial services today. They're also what's behind the growing popularity of instant issuance.

Here are three reasons why instant issuance remains a vital offering for financial institutions:

1. Consumers Demand It

Services such as instant issuance can be game-changers for financial institutions. For instance, 44 percent of consumers say getting a debit card at a branch would influence where they bank, according to the 2016 Fiserv Insights: Consumer Preferences and Document Delivery survey. And 51 percent said it's very important to get a debit card at a branch.

Consumers expect the physical branch to match their experience when buying a book online or sending a digital payment to a friend. They want financial institutions to translate "click and go" into a branch experience.

2. The Branch Still Matters

While self-service channels continue to outpace the branch in terms of frequency of use, Fiserv consumer research shows that many people value the branch and in-person interactions. Branches still are relevant to all generations, with 54 percent of consumers with a bank account visiting a branch in the preceding month, according to the 2017 Expectations & Experiences: Channels and New Entrants report from Fiserv.

Those consumers, especially millennials, expect in-person interactions to mirror the convenience of other channels. Those expectations are informing how the branch evolves and highlighting instant issuance's place in that evolution.

3. Card Activation Drives Revenue

The U.S. market's active debit card rate has held steady between 65 and 68 percent for the past several years, according to multiple industry analysts. If cards aren't activated, they can't affect interchange revenue for financial institutions. The Consumer Preferences research highlights the gap between people receiving their cards and activating them. Only 63 percent of consumers activated their debit card the day it arrived in the mail.

Giving consumers activated cards when they walk into the branch means people can start using them as soon as they walk out the door.

Security and Convenience Can Coexist

Preventing fraud, providing convenience and enhancing the consumer experience are all critical. But they don't have to be mutually exclusive.

There are concrete steps financial institutions can take to ensure security and meet consumer expectations for speed and ease. Take, for instance, palm vein authentication, which, when combined with instant card issuance, creates a secure, holistic experience. A consumer walks into a branch for a new debit card, gets a palm vein scan in less time than it would take to pull an ID out of a wallet and walks out minutes later with an activated card.

That's how branches evolve. And that's how financial institutions rise to meet consumer expectations for security, speed and convenience.