Sometimes, changes that become fundamental to society first appear as anything but. Let’s use signage to illustrate. Older generations may remember riding buses that had smoking sections. It was common to see “NO SPITTING” signs. These were from a time when chewing and spitting tobacco was common and public health officials wanted to curb the spread of communicable diseases like tuberculosis.
Around 30 years later, “NO SMOKING” signs, especially in places like restaurants and airports, became common. But today, those signs are gone; society has moved on.
Around 10 years ago in the U.K., “CHEQUES NO LONGER ACCEPTED” signs began to appear at gas stations and supermarket checkouts. Today, cheques have now almost completely disappeared from U.K. retail transactions—and so have the signs.
See where we’re going with this? During the worst of the pandemic outbreak, for countries with higher levels of cash in circulation, it became common to see signage with messaging that said, “To reduce the risk of infection, please use payment cards instead of cash.”
In many northern European countries, these are now replaced with “CARD ONLY, NO CASH ACCEPTED” signs. And, globally, almost all countries operating contactless payments increased the "PIN free limit" in 2020.
Related: How cash use changed in 2020
In almost all developed societies, the proportion of transactions involving cash is declining and it’s unlikely to change direction. It’s no surprise that the pandemic has been a factor driving an unprecedented growth in online shopping globally, from $1.3B in 2014 to an estimated $4.9B in 2021.
Online purchases typically involve card not present payments made using a debit card linked to a money transmission account or a revolving credit card. These cards are now almost all compliant with major card association schemes.
It's led to an increasing usage of banking cards—and, consequently, new requirements for these cards to be more robust. Flat cards with ink that wears off with increased usage are no longer acceptable since the PIN, security and expiry information must be easily read to make online purchases. Embossed cards allow card details to be read easily long after the ink has worn off.
The increased reliance on and usage of these debit and revolving credit cards means that cards in need of replacement (due to damage or loss) and renewal (due to expiry) must be rapidly and conveniently issued.
The latest digital branches are configured with embossed card issuing machines. The best of these are fully PCI-DSS certified (Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard). The machines access the FI’s card management system. A one-time password (OTP) texted to the customer’s phone is regularly used to ensure secure issuance. Card issuing machines tend to operate predominantly in self-service mode but can also be Interactive Teller Machines capable of providing teller assistance on demand from a teller or card specialist in the call center.
The issuance of cards at these digital machines means the customer no longer needs to go to a branch or wait for a centrally-produced card to arrive via courier or postal service. This digital delivery means the customer can choose when and where to get a replacement card—which is the kind of instant convenience today’s customers expect.