Alongside the requirement for a physical international presence in EMEA and the Americas, we recognised the significantly growing demand for digital services in the gift card, payments, and security documentation industries. These factors propelled us to complete the Nitecrest / Austriacard Holdings merger at the end of 2021.
Collectively, the group processes over 100 million payment cards and 1.5 billion digital documents every year, as well as millions of commercial cards across Europe and the US. We physically manufacture and personalise bank cards, security documents, health insurance cards, gift and loyalty scheme cards. We also digitally fulfil billing and statements for the telecoms and energy sectors.
We manage the production and distribution of these items via a global footprint of eight production facilities and nine personalisation centres. An estate of this size allows Nitecrest to have a solid disaster recovery solution – an essential capability that guarantees our continuous production, should any single facility become unable to operate.
You can read more about the merger over on Printweek.
Benefits to the gift card and loyalty industry
The finest string to the Nitecrest bow is our ability to service commercial cards that transact on the VISA and Mastercard platforms. This practise requires legal accreditation and a secure location to handle the personal data involved throughout production and personalisation.
Very few gift card focused manufacturers hold these accreditations, so we are uniquely well-placed to support the fast growth of multi-retailer open loop cards and reloadable chip and PIN cards.
The extent of our international footprint means that we can efficiently manufacture and personalise gift and loyalty scheme cards for any global market, by utilising the relevant local bureau. This is a welcome solution to complex business challenges brought about by Brexit, COVID-19 and supply chain shortages.
Whilst the trend towards digital products is surging, the physical market remains ever-present and is continually diversifying. The capabilities within the wider group allow us to continue to evolve as necessary.
Building the Future for Fintech Services
Our business is at the forefront of the digital revolution and is providing digital services to fintechs and start-ups. Digitalising is expensive, time-consuming and carries significant risk. A decade ago, our European counterparts built the digital infrastructure needed to transform billing and statement distribution. Today, our developers continue to innovate and find the next trend.
Now that sustainability is a larger focus, our clients are looking for ways to digitalise their products in the first instance (though many still require traditional cards as backup and a requirement for certain services need to be physical). Our digital services include the ability to serve virtual payment and loyalty cards, digital gift cards, and digitalised ID and billing documentation.
A Banking Experience
We’re the international leaders in card issuance for challenger banks such as Monzo, Starling and Revolut. As a result, we’re still heavily investing in advanced physical cards.
Often the only ‘real’ touchpoint between bank and consumer, the act of receiving a card has become an experience.
Whether it is via a beautifully printed presentation box or the use of specialist printing methods on the card itself, these challenger banks are generating brand loyalty from their customers simply by investing in the onboarding journey. It’s a value-add that can provide an edge over the traditional bank.
We’ve seen this trend extend into the Crypto market, where physical cards are a massive growth area. Metal cards – which are a growing sector for us – are increasingly used as premium payment solutions.
The crossover between the banking and gift card industries becomes more blurred as technology advances. Banks are now offering add-on products utilising reloadable gift card technology. At Nitecrest, we have the functionality to straddle this growing medley effectively and efficiently.
The Future at Nitecrest and Austriacard Holdings
We know that the physical card won’t disappear overnight. It is too convenient and there is still much suspicion of the digital world. For the foreseeable, it will continue to act as an important complementary product to cutting edge digital solutions, and therefore the ability to physically manufacture and personalise will remain a requirement for more years to come.
That said, a move towards a more sustainable production of physical cards is desirable. Thanks to Nitecrest’s early investment in such technologies, eco-friendly production doesn’t have to be as expensive a switch as a customer might think. Whilst PVC is a relatively cheap material, the costs saved during production often make paperboards an equal or sometimes cheaper option.
Bank cards need to stick with a plastic substrate for durability purposes, but we now use recycled plastic to combat our impact on the planet.
Our latest group development is the combination of biometric technology with the physical card. The ID fingerprint sensor is held within the card, activated by the user’s thumbprint at POS. The aim is to increase safety whilst preventing the need for contactless limits. These cards will no doubt complement the use of digital wallets. We look forward to launching this on an industrial scale during 2022/2023.