Adopting the metal card in Brazil and around the world

Last updated: 29 April 2019

Do you know how the credit card was invented? Let me share the story with you. The idea of the credit card came to businessman Frank McNamara in 1949 who forgot his wallet while dinning out at a New York restaurant. He negotiated his way out by signing for his dinner and promising to pay the restaurant back. A year later he came up with the idea of a multipurpose charge card and founded America’s first consumer-facing credit card company, the Diner’s Club. The idea of the card was that members of the club were able to sign for their dinner and pay the bill later.

At the same time, Alfred Bloomingdale – the grandson of the founder of Bloomingdale’s department store and a key figure in the growth of the credit card business, founded Dine and Sign. The two companies eventually merged, and Bloomingdale was named vice president of the new Diner’s Club.

Bloomingdale predicted that one day credit cards would become more popular than cash. And his prediction might soon become a reality and what proves it is the fact that the British Retail Consortium recently reported that the value of purchases made by card now accounts for more than three-quarters of all retail sales.

The widespread adoption of contactless payments has also had a huge role to play. From plastic cards and wearable objects utilizing radio frequency chip technologies to mobile payment applications equipped with NFC technology, the innovative methods that enable contactless transactions for consumers are everywhere. Here are some great examples of such technologies adopted in Brazil:

  • Non-contact payment wristbands – they work great when you want to make a payment on the beach, in the park or at the gym, at festivals and events. They are a lot more practical because they contain a payment tag, which has the same functionality as an EMV banking card, but in a much more flexible and waterproof format. In Brazil, some banks such as Banco do Brasil and Santander are already offering their own wristbands. You can also pay for public transport in Rio de Janeiro via a wristband, provided by Riocard.
  • Wearables such as smart watches, jewelry – rings or bracelets – and even garments can now be enabled to make contactless payments as they have flexible payment tag installed. Visa launched a project during the Olympic Games in Brazil called the payment ring, to provide athletes with the convenience to pay for their goods inside the Olympic Villa.
  • Smartphone apps – there are now payment solutions from Samsung and Apple which provide Brazilians with the practicality to pay with their smartphone, without the need to take the card out of their wallet. Both Apple and Samsung Pay are already connected with some banks in Brazil.

The latest innovation in the payment market is the metal card. The metal card has a minimalist design, with almost no writing or numbers on its front. It has become the newest status symbol for wealthy customers around the world. There are four different types of metal cards:

Different metal cards by Gemalto

Easy Metal – This card with encapsulated metal has 2 PVC blades on the front and the back, and metal interior. It weighs about 11 grams and can be produced with the contactless function.

Compact Metal – This card is with encapsulated metal and has 2 PVC blades on the front and back, made with a special metal alloy inside. It weighs about 18 grams and can also be manufactured as contactless.

Gemalto compact metal card

The Metal Veneer Card has metal alloy inside and is designed through an edge to edge inlay process, which means that when you look aside you will be able to see the metallic edge. The Veneer card weighs between 16 -18 grams. It is personalized with a laser and can be used as a contactless payment card.

The Hybrid Card has 1 metal blade on the front and 1 PVC on the reverse side. It weighs approximately 22 grams. The process of recording the card number and customer data is done by laser. This card could also be a contactless.

Full Metal – This card is made of a special metal alloy, weighs around 33 grams, but does not have a contactless version. The full metal is the most luxurious of all.

This luxury card has been around in the US since 1999, when American Express offered its Centurion card, made of titanium, to its customers. Sixteen years later, in March 2017, it released its Platinum card, which comes in stainless steel.

Gemalto's full metal card

Today, the metal card is a status symbol used in countries all over the world. In Brazil, Bradesco introduced the first metal card in July 2018 that brings benefits such as never expiring points, personal assistant, contactless payment, VIP rooms at the world’s major airports, among other advantages for its high-end users. The Visa Aeternum card is the first in the country; a metal card that will be offered only by invitation to a select group of clients of the bank.

Elsewhere in the world, British digital payment firm Revolut recently introduced its metal card as part of its fee-charging premium service with features such as cashback, travel insurance and a service that books restaurants or concert tickets for the user, or gives cheaper access to airport lounges. And in Germany, N26 is the company that is at the forefront with its N26 Metal, described as a physical card and a “membership for the digital generation”.

Having a metal card is about making a statement. But the luxurious design of these cards is not their only benefit. Having one of these cards means owners are able to access premium services such as receiving cashback on transactions in a currency of their choice, make free international withdraws, hotel room upgrades, and travel insurance amongst others, which are not available to all. It’s all about providing the high-end user with a seamless, convenient, secure and agile experience.

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