Pay Your Way, Anytime: Instant Versus Digital Card Issuance

Digital Card Issuance

Instant and digital card issuance gives your consumers the freedom, flexibility and power to pay any way, whenever they want. Consumers, similarly, increasingly expect card issuers and providers to provide instant and digital card issuance services as one of many digital payment options.

This article introduces digital and instant card issuance, outlining their key similarities and differences and essential considerations for financial institutions and card issuing providers planning their card issuance strategy in the digital economy.

Instant card issuance vs. digital card issuance: overlaps

When consumers report a lost or stolen card, the average time to receive a card from most financial institutions is an agonizing seven to ten days for replacements. Moreover, consumers who receive their card in the mail don’t always activate it immediately—a lost revenue opportunity as consumers may opt to use another issuer’s card or cash. 

Instant and digital card issuance services offer a host of benefits for digital and instant card issuers and financial institutions, helping to:

  • Maintain or increase card issuers’ transaction volume
  • Shorten card replacement times and associated costs with physical cards
  • Improve card activation rates (compared to traditional card fulfillment)
  • Build and foster durable and long-lasting customer relationships

But each card issuance type offers its unique pros and cons. 

Instant card issuance

Instant card issuance is a process whereby banks or financial institutions can issue and personalize debit, credit and bank cards with proprietary logos (e.g. VISA, AMEX, Mastercard) on demand, delivering it to the customer in a bank branch or retailer outlet. 

Although instant card issuance has become a must-have offering in banks, it can produce remarkable results for institutions and card issuers, such as:

  • Deliver quantifiable KPI improvements 
  • Refocus branches to build value-driven customer relationships
  • Exceed customer satisfaction and increase facetime
  • Create new opportunities to cross-sell other financial products and services

For cardholders who regard EMV chip cards as the more secure option, instant card issuance allows them to more quickly get their hands on a new or replacement card at a branch. This offering gives financial institutions a competitive advantage over others.  

But instant card issuance also needs to keep pace with the fast-changing needs of consumers and digital payment channels—banks and their respective branches should thus refocus their priorities accordingly. Be prepared to provide capabilities for physical and virtual card management. For example, adding instant issuance capabilities requires investment and coordination of resources. Nonetheless, the successful implementation and execution can lead to new customer attraction and loyalty, improved satisfaction and new areas to drive revenue.

Digital card issuance 

Digital card issuance is a process that allows cardholders and consumers immediate access to their cards and accounts in a mobile wallet. Through push provisioning, card issuers can immediately generate new payment credentials and ‘push’ digital cards into third-party digital wallets such as ApplePay. These features allow consumers to use their cards without manual input or a physical card.

By giving cardholders immediate purchasing power, digital issuance sets your institution up for top-of-wallet status, fosters cardholder loyalty, establishes consumer trust and maintains consumer spend. 

Consumers want secure and private payment experiences to match their shopping habits, and digital card issuance is suitable for meeting these needs since it does not compromise on personal security.  Digital cards allow card providers and issuers to reduce operation costs and online payment fraud while offering more secure payment methods due to in-app authentication, smartphone biometric features and behind-the-scenes fraud monitoring. 


As consumers increasingly blend their use of physical and digital cards for digital payments online and in-store, staying on top of these evolving trends and building adaptive, agile digital financial solutions are the only way to stay ahead of the curve. 

To develop, design and build a card issuance strategy that meets consumers’ evolving expectations and your product goals, you need a development partner who has a keen understanding of FinTech consulting services and solutions. Unlock rapid growth, increase customer satisfaction and gain a competitive edge with Star as your FinTech development partner. 

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The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.