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Datacard Group

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For more than 40 years, Datacard Group has worked with customers to devise secure financial card and ID programs for financial institutions, government organizations, education and corporate clients. Because of its commitment to industry best practices and an understanding of intricate operational issues, the company creates innovative solutions and services to help customers solve their financial card and ID challenges.

Russell St. John, senior vice president of global marketing, says Datacard Group’s approach to innovation has allowed the company to maintain its position atop the industry. “We have several hundred patents and an annual budget that we can use to reinvest in the company and keep refreshing our technology roadmap,” he says. “That allows us to solve more problems for customers, and we are at our peak now in terms of R&D investments.”

Top of the Market

Minnesota-based Datacard manufactures machines and systems to produce credit and debit cards, as well as security credentials, including the personalization of passports and national IDs. Datacard Group’s history demonstrates a pioneering spirit, as the company was the first to introduce  high-speed card personalization systems. It allowed for the secure, high-volume issuance of credit cards more than four decades ago. The company continues to create patented technologies designed to allow customers to improve productivity, profitability and cardholder satisfaction.

The company remains privately held and has annual revenues in excess of $400 million. It employs 1,300 people worldwide, and its service and support network covers more than 120 countries. Datacard also has development centers and offices in many regions and countries around the world, including Asia-Pacific, India, Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North America and Latin America.

A leader in the secure ID and card personalization solution industry, the company’s services include high-volume and instant card issuance, secure credential issuance and management, passport production, delivery, fulfillment and packaging. The company maintains its industry-leading position through its various hardware, software and supplies, along with fully integrated operations and expert service and support.

Datacard Group offers its customers Secure Issuance Anywhere, which provides customers the flexibility to securely issue cards and credentials anytime, anywhere. This integrated platform includes scalable and flexible hardware, software, supplies and global support – combining central issuance or instant issuance, as well as emerging mobile issuance into a single, integrated solution.

Datacard Group’s products include central card issuance systems, desktop card printers, attaching and fulfillment systems, software and accessories, desktop embossers and passport systems. It serves an array of markets, including corporate, education, financial, government, healthcare, loyalty and membership, retail, telecommunications and transit.

“The financial vertical is still our strongest market, and government programs are about a quarter of our revenue,” St. John says. “Looking forward, we see mobile payments as a big area. It is embryonic, but we’ve made investments that will allow for secure transactions with Apple- or Android-based phones. Our goal is to help customers make transactions securely, regardless of the form factor.”

Quality assurance is of the utmost important to Datacard. In February 2008, the company’s quality management systems became registered as compliant with the International Standard ISO 9001:2000. The company also employs Six Sigma black belt teams.

“We’ve done a lot over the last four years to revolutionize how we manufacture products and improve the effectiveness of our global footprint,” St. John says. “We’ve also streamlined and consolidated our manufacturing, bringing it back to the U.S. because our processes have a high amount of technology integration and lower labor content.”

The company has also been introducing new automated methodologies, such as quality-control checks on its desktop printers. This software application is helping to ensure the quality of products, driving first-time yield and improving out-of-the-box performance.

Moving Forward

During the last year alone, Datacard has continued to add to its arsenal. In February, the company launched the Datacard MPR3800 GSM card issuance system, which provides telecommunications companies and service bureaus with a cost-effective solution for centralized SIM card personalization.

In June, Datacard launched the Datacard PB500 passport printer, which provides passport issuers with a compact system capable of desktop issuance and personalization that can be used in remote areas and for instant replacement programs. June also was when the company announced the availability of the Datacard MX1100 card issuance system, designed to allow financial institutions, government agencies and other organizations to affordably engage in centralized card issuance.  In addition, the company continues to grow its suite of financial instant issuance solutions, enabling banks and credit unions the ability to issue payment cards at branch locations.

“We are seeing continuous growth in instant issuance across the globe as issuers are recognizing the benefits of enhancing customer service levels, and increasing card sales, activation and usage rates,” St. John says. “It is a great way for financial organizations to complement their card programs to help drive activation, as well as reduce issuer costs.”

Datacard Group is also at the forefront of offering EMV® smart card programs to its customers.  In August, Datacard released a software upgrade package for U.S. card issuers that use the Datacard CardWizard issuance software. This EMV technology upgrade package helps facilitate issuers’ migration path to EMV-compliant smart card programs.

The company continues to invest in innovative technology with a continuous focus on growing the company.

“We acquired the CardWizard software back in 2010, and it is the most prominent instant issuance solution in the industry with the most market share and acceptance,” St. John says. “We have also launched equipment that allows for full-color and personalized messages to be sent on the paper delivered with new credit cards, and we’ve introduced inkjet printing technology to  passport business because it is high quality, cost effective and helps preventing counterfeiting.”

The company continues to expand its international footprint, as well. In March 2012, CardPro Solutions Pvt. Ltd. installed the Datacard MX2000 card issuance system. CardPro Solutions is a manufacturer, exporter and supplier of smart cards, and its installation of the MX2000 system allowed Datacard to expand its growth in the Indian market.

Another part of the company’s continued push in foreign markets hinges on regular participation in various exhibitions and conferences around the world. Datacard has taken part in events in a number of countries in 2012, including Dubai, France, Australia, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Canada, China and England. Attending shows is also a key piece of its domestic strategy, as Datacard has taken part in events in North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada this year.

“Brazil, India and China have been a big focus for us,” St. John says. “In the financial and government verticals, that is where the most opportunity for growth and largest markets are.”

Datacard will continue to invest in launching more new products, and it is working to ensure execution on a global scale. Internal training – including of the 250 indirect sales partners it works with around the world – should help the company and its partners strengthen the distribution channel and remain clear on the capabilities of new products as they hit the market.

“We have a great global team that knows our customers and markets inside and out,” St. John says. “And, we are adding more resources globally to ensure further successful global expansion.” mt

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