People have engaged in commerce to exchange goods and services for payment throughout the ages. These financial transactions did not always involve monetary payments. There was a time when ‘standard’ money did not even exist and people utilized other forms of payment to perform transactions.

The card (charge plate) from its first appearance1 – as a ‘loan tool’ back in the 1800, to the first ‘closed – loop’ system card of New York‘s Franklin National Bank, the Diners Club Card in 1950 and of course the American Express Card in  1958  has been going through a lot of transformation, mainly a far as technology and security is concerned. Increased security started with the magnetic stripe in the 1960’s, a feature still used for many cards for storing ‘invisibly data‘. Security  and global spread of EMV chip cards (Europay International, Mastercard and VISA)  started mid of the 1990s. Moreover, the arrival of radio-frequency identification RFID enabled contactless interaction (e.g. ID verification).

For payment card manufacturers these evolutions in the market brought with them multiple technologies to deal with in the manufacturing process together with pioneering security requirements and product guidelines and mandates. The product itself is not just plastic, it is produced following strict guidelines issued from not only the three above mentioned payment scheme providers but also from public authorities and financial regulators. Both physical and logical characteristic of the products are subject to rigorous testing and approval procedures, overall accuracy matters and strict tolerances have to be kept at all times.

EMV and RFID technology relies on high-tech chip operating systems implementing strict internal protocols, algorithms and procedures enabling secure processing of highly sensitive financial and personal data.

Cardholders and/or consumers take the above for granted and virtually see only the ‘marketing side’ of a plastic card. With all printing features available today, with stamped hot foils, to special scenst applied, lacquer layers, translucent areas and even gold bars and crystals incorporated into a plastic card body, there are literally almost no limits to the creativity of a card designer apart from the form factor and size of a payment card, which has remained unchanged for centuries not to jeopardize global acceptance in any payment device.

Payment cards are not just pieces of plastic but one of the most sophisticated and secure payment tools incorporating advertising and promotional features making it a vivid part of our lives. For almost  40 years AUSTRIACARD has been the partner of choice for many of our customers guaranteeing flexibility and personal service around payment cards. See more.

1 History of Credit Cards by Jay MacDonald and Taylor Tompkins

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