What is Instant Issuance?
January 2, 2024
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What is Instant Issuance?

Physical debit and credit cards are still the most common payment method in many places.

Being cut off from these can make life very inconvenient for cardholders, ultimately negatively impacting consumer satisfaction.

For a financial institution, providing instant issue cards is a great way to save your customers time and worry.

Instant issuance: a definition

definition of instant issuance

Instant issuance is a service that allows on-demand printing of EMV chip cards (including debit, credit or prepaid cards).

It enables financial institutions to directly and immediately issue their customers with activated payment cards.

Banks and credit unions can offer instant issue cards by placing a card personalisation machine in branch locations. This can be operated by staff or even on a self-service basis.

What are EMV cards?

EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) cards are payment cards with an embedded microchip that contains cardholder and account information and meets the EMV standard.

This standard has technical specifications aimed at enhancing card and transaction security. It is used around the world and is supported by a wide range of payment networks and card issuers.

The credit and debit card issuance landscape

Spending on debit cards in the US reached $2.729 trillion in 2021, up 18.3% from 2020.

And in the UK, there were approximately 106,880,000 debit cards and 60,019,000 credit cards in circulation back in 2021.

We have seen an increase in mobile and online spending, however, in many markets, the majority of consumers still use cards.

In Canada, for example, 96.3% of people over the age of 15 own debit cards according to the latest data. And in Denmark, that number is 98.9%.

table listing benefits of instant card issuance for providers and customers

What are the benefits of instant card issuance?

Benefits for the card provider

1. Increases number of cards in circulation

Branches offering instant card issuance services increase the number of payment cards in circulation.

This means account holders have quicker access to financial services.

2. Reduction in fraud

According to one report, 260 million packages were stolen in the USA in 2022 alone.

Instant issuance reduces the amount of mail financial institutions need to send. This brings value in increased security and reduced address fraud.

3. Increased revenue

By enabling financial institutions to issue cards, instant issuance improves the overall customer experience.

This could help build customer loyalty and increases the chance that the instant issued cards will be 'top-of-wallet', i.e., the one most likely to be reached for by customers first.

These benefits will hopefully in turn contribute to issuers capturing more interchange revenue.

Benefits for the customer

1. Immediate access to bank account and financial services

Instant card issuance allows customers to activate and use their debit or credit cards instantly.

According to a 2023 poll by Forbes, debit (54%) and credit (36%) cards are the primary payment method for most Americans. By contrast, cash polled at 9%.

In other words, access to financial institutions' services is not just a convenience, it is a necessity for most customers.

2. Instant replacement of lost/stolen cards

Lost or stolen bank cards can cause a lot of stress and inconvenience.

Cards that are sent by post can't be used until they have arrived and are activated by the cardholder.

An instant issuance solution can reduce both of these negatives significantly and help the customer feel secure as they have full control over their money again.

3. instant personalization

Card personalization is the process of customizing debit and credit cards users' preferences or needs. It can include adding:

  • Physical design features (i.e., colour and patterns of the card)
  • Additional security features
  • Spending limits or restrictions on certain types of purchases

Overall, personalized cards enable banks to provide users with greater control and flexibility over their financial transactions, offering an improved banking experience.

What is instant digital issuance?

Instant digital issuance (IDI) refers to the ability to provide customers with a new virtual debit or credit card immediately.

This process typically involves using technology to instantly approve an application for a new card, generate a unique card number, and provide the customer with access to it.

Like traditional card issuance solutions, traditional digital issuance can take several days.

Back in 2021, only 10% of financial institutions provided an instant digital issuance service. By 2024, this figure is estimated to reach 50%.


Instant issuance is a service that enables financial institutions to issue their customers with active payment cards.

An instant card issuance solution helps to boost customer experience and satisfaction by providing an immediate, secure and frictionless service.

It has many benefits to financial institutions, too. It reduces the risk of fraud and increases the debit and credit card usage, which ultimately increases revenue for the issuers.

Physical cards are the primary payment methods in many countries. So instant issuance is essential for almost every financial institution.

As digital payments and virtual card programs grow, instant digital issuance solutions look likely to mirror the popularity of their physical counterparts.

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