Modern Card Issuing: Is it a SaaS-driven future?

by Peter Theunis. SVP Europe, BPC

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As the financial sector experiences an increase in e-commerce and demand for instantaneous financial services, banks face the challenge of modernising card issuance to meet new consumer expectations. These consumers demand instant, seamless, modern payments. The number of payment cards issued via digital platforms is projected to reach 1.3 billion by 2027, driven by an API-led approach that enhances flexibility, speed, and security. According to Forbes, over 53% of consumers use digital wallets more often than traditional payment methods. In Europe, the volume of the virtual cards market is expected to reach USD 158 billion by 2029, indicating a shift from traditional, static payment methods to dynamic, fintech-enabled financial solutions, including both physical and virtual cards. Additionally, the trend towards digital wallet systems, catalysed by consumer demand for convenience and financial inclusion, has led banks to develop proprietary payment systems. This reflects a significant transition in how payment cards are perceived and utilised.

Neobanks such as Bunq, N26, Curve, Monzo, and Revolut have effectively utilised modern card management techniques to enhance their offerings, converting trial users into dedicated customers through strategic card programs. These programs are evaluated based on key metrics today, including enhanced user experience, mobile-centric interfaces, real-time data access, and secure transactions. The economic viability and success of these programs are augmented by leveraging SaaS-based models, which offer scalability and cost-effective setup costs. This is further supported by digital delivery channels and advanced API integrations.

As a result, traditional financial institutions struggle to stay competitive against challenger banks. Legacy payment infrastructures often show inflexibility and slowness in adapting to the real-time needs of modern consumers, for whom instant and seamless service is a basic requirement. Customers today expect full control over their payment methods directly from their mobile devices, demanding services that are not only instant but also secure and user-friendly. This requires institutions to swiftly integrate new technologies such as instant payments, virtual cards, instalments, SoftPOS payments, and digital wallet compatibility.

Financial institutions face significant hurdles such as regulatory compliance, establishing banking partnerships, and technical integrations that can stifle innovation and extend time-to-market. However, switching to a modern card issuing platform via a SaaS model offers a potent solution. This approach simplifies compliance and reduces the operational overhead associated with launching new card programs. It also facilitates instant issuance, enabling real-time digital cards to be directly delivered to consumer wallets. Additionally, it enhances user experience through intuitive mobile apps and features like dynamic spending controls and instant card freezing while simultaneously increasing the capacity to innovate and integrate new services or payment methods without significant infrastructure changes.

The modernisation of card issuance allows for the introduction of more creative benefits and customizable credit card programs, including tailored rewards, competitive interest rates, broader redemption options, flexible credit limits, and cryptocurrency transactions. Innovative fintech companies, neobanks, and cryptocurrency exchange platforms have already implemented these comprehensive, digital-first mobile applications, signalling a trend expected to be broadly adopted by card issuers in the near to medium future. It is crucial to invest in this updated card issuance architecture now.

With a projected 80% of the world’s population going online and an expected $10.5 trillion in online spending, the demand for innovative payment solutions is expected to follow. Modern card issuing platforms, especially those based on a SaaS model, are not only equipped to handle this surge but could be the only viable solution for institutions aiming to stay relevant among highly competitive digital banks. As the boundaries between physical and digital continue to blur, the upgrade from a traditional to a user-centric all-digital service becomes essential for meeting the next wave of consumer expectations.

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