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Article 3 Monday, September 30, 2013
The Current & Future Roll of Embossed Plastic Cards for Marketing Products and Services
By Ken Swepston
As you may know, the use of plastic embossed cards for making credit transactions started more than fifty years ago.
Do you remember getting your first card in the mail? It was like having a revolving account that
gave you immediate approval to purchase just about anything you desired. Back then, pulling out your card to pay
for dinner seemed quite glamorous and impressive to all those seated with you.
Today the use of personalized plastic cards has become the norm for making most of our financial
transactions. Not only that, but this simple plastic card, with all of its glitz and glamour, has also
become a status symbol of value. Such perceived value associated with the use of a plastic card for making
transactions has now been turned into a massive opportunity for marketing just about every product and
The use of plastic embossed credit and debit cards, with the raised alpha
and numeric characters, with black, gold, silver or other color topping, for
making credit transactions certainly is a quick and easy way of making a purchase.
Unlike writing checks or using cash, using our Visa, Master,
American Express, Discover or
direct merchant cards, allows all of us to
make many more purchases than our bank accounts might sometimes allow for.
I think one of the big reasons that the embossed credit card became so popular was that instead of having to write down customer account numbers, this embossed plastic credit card allowed merchants to use carbon copy paper to quickly make an impression of the customer’s name, account number, and other pertinent data.
At the time, it truly was a very efficient process.
However it did have some draw backs. To verify a credit card, you had to call the card in to get clearance that
the customers’ account was in good standing. Plus, they also had to turn in all of the paper transactions to the
credit card company for payment.
Soon technology came to the rescue in solving this problem through the development of the magnetic stripe. When
applied to the back of your cards, it could capture all your account data with one swipe through a reader. With the
introduction of this magnetic stripe and electronic processing terminals, you could now complete a purchase, alone
with account transactions, post charges and payments instantly.
This was a huge advancement and those of us who lived through that time know, full well, the revolutionary impact
it had as we quickly moved from paper transactions to the world of electronic communications.
Not long after these advancements came about, the use of plastic cards, that emulate a Visa, Master, Dinners Club
Credit Cards, started being used as an effective means for building value for any product or service associated with it.
Today that marketing strategy continues to be aggressively expanded into more and more marketing sectors. The use
of plastic cards, that incorporate a credit card appearance, in marketing through the mail, has proven its value in getting your mail piece opened and increasing the sense of value for its content.
We have all been witness to the impact that personalized, as well as generic plastic gift cards have had on increasing sales and value for brand names. Even in miniature discount key tags, plastic cards have worked to increase sales and brand value. So as long as plastic cards continue to be a major vehicle for making financial transactions, there is every reason to suspect that applying this associated value of the plastic card will continue to be an effective tool in the marketing of an array of products and services. You may be thinking, while this is nice to know, how does this relate to me and my business or anyone in the print/mail industry?
Well, millions of these promotional/service cards are being mailed out all the time and those of us with the
capabilities for emboss and print, these personalized cards can secure a lot more work from our current, and potential
customers in the future. For those of you who do not have plastic card production as part of your portfolio of services, you
may be saying all this is true, but who can afford to invest in such specialized equipment? While it is true that the
new high speed card production systems can be quite expensive, it is also true that reconditioned plastic card
production systems can be very affordable.
If you are looking into offering plastic card services, there are a number of manufactures to choose from, like
NBS, Datacard and CIM, that have produced a variety of systems to meet specific job requirements. Securing a
reconditioned one that will meet your goals, from a reliable used equipment dealer, can be a very good investment
and greatly expand your capabilities in securing more business. You can buy affordable reconditioned heavy duty
table top and floor model systems that can produce personalize plastic cards at rates of 400 to 1,100 per hour.
They can be set up to personalize cards through embossed & color tip alpha/numeric characters, graphic printing of
front and back sides as well as encoding all of this information through a magnetic stripe.
For tabletop systems, nothing can beat the performance and durability of the Datacard 450. It can emboss and color tip
the front of a plastic card while at the same time encoding the magnetic stripe on the back. Pulling the information
from your data base file, this Datacard 450 can produce these cards at a rate of 400 plus cards per hour.
For jobs that require personalized printing and graphics, nothing beats Datacard’s heavy duty Utra Grafix 800. It can be set up for
front or backside printing as well as magnetic encoding. With a production rate of 1000 per hour, you have the ability, with just
one of these tabletop systems, to take on many different high volume production jobs.
For high volume production needs and additional requirements like activation labeling, card carrier affixing & mailing, etc.,
Datacard’s 7000/9000, would be ideal.
The Datacard 7000/9000 is a heavy duty system that has been the workhorse for the 24/7 production needs of banks
and other financial institutions. It was designed as a modular system to allow you to add on modules for
embossing, graphic printing, magnetic encoding and many others as needed to meet production requirements.
Based on the module configurations, the Datacard 7000/9000 can produce in access of 1100 per hour.
by adding the in line Ultraform Module, you can also address a carrier, affix up to four cards to it, then fold
and stack for insertion into your mailing envelope.
Also, if you are looking for a system for affixing and mailing out mass promotional discount cards or other
promotional items you can do so with reconditioned card affixing systems manufactured by companies like Ga-Vehren,
Sure Feed or other makers of high speed systems.
As we move forward in our technical capabilities in electronic processing, the need for a plastic card itself for
making electronic transactions is coming into question. Beyond the use of a smart card for transmitting
information by way of a embedded chip sending a radio signal to the terminal, the industry is now moving
toward transmitting all of our credit card information through our cell phones. Then, like with a smart card,
you can just waive your phone or by just be in the proximity of the merchant’s terminal to make your electronic
transactions. The actual technology for this already exists and is being used in a number of countries outside
If all of this new technology makes you nervous, you are not alone. But wait it gets even better. They say that
in the not so distant future, it is predicted that the next technological move in transmitting financial and
personal information, will be through a chip embedded under the skin of our wrists.
After that, there may even come a time when transactions through facial recognition may be a possibility. Plus
some time in the distant future, they say we may even have the ability to perform transactions through our brain
waves. Now, I’m sure that is a scary thought for even the most daring of us sci-fi fans.
Of course all of this will take time; time for such new technology to be put in place, as well as time for consumers to accept and move to these new card-less forms of transmitting information. Not to mention, trying to get any such technology, and the regulations that would come with it, through the grid lock we are now seeing in Washington.
There is no doubt that technology has been moving rapidly in this new age we live in. However,
I don’t see the use of marketing through plastic cards losing its value anytime soon. In fact I don’t see anything that will be able to replace the use and flexibility found in using plastic cards for marketing the array of products and services available to us today. So you can rest assured that the demand for marketing through plastic cards is not going away and that the business opportunities are there for all those wanting to take advantage of it.
Advanced Systems Rebuilt or Refurbished Mailing Equipment!
Offering Plastic Card Embossing Machines and Accessories
We Sell Reconditioned Plastic Card Embossing Machines & Modules
Advanced Systems is a provider of new and used plastic card
embossing machines. Choose either tabletop or a high production model
with the modules to accommodate any job requirements. It will be delivered
to you ready for your mailshop production floor.
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