Card Industry Glossary


ABS…Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, plastic material formed through injection molding, used for some smart cards.

Access Control Card… Magnetic or chip cards with or without photo used to enter restricted areas e.g. ID badges.

ANSI… American National Standards Institute

AP… Asia Pacific regional market

ASP… Average Selling Price

AUP… Average Unit Price

Barcode… An optical, machine-readable, representation of data; the data usually describes something about the object that carries the barcode.

BIN… Bank Identification Number, is now called IIN (Issuer Identification Number) by ISO Standards.

Blank Cards…Cards with no printing usually used in imagining machines

Bleeds… Artwork that extends beyond the actual size of the card.

Biometric ID Cards… A form of identification that recognizes and analyzes an individual based on their physical and behavioral traits. This includes fingerprints, eye retina and iris scanning, voice recognition, facial patterns, and body movement, including gait.

Card Present… A transaction in which the customer physically uses the card and can present it to a merchant for payment.

Card Not Present (CNP)… Transactions where the merchant does not have physical access to the customer’s card eg. on line orders, telephone orders, mail orders.

Chip… A piece of silicon etched with an electronic circuit.

Closed Loop… A card that can only be used for transacting with the specific issuer of the card

Coercivity… A measure of the strength of a magnetic field. Fields are expressed as low or high by the terms LoCo and HiCo.

Combo Card… Usually has One or two key tags attached to a ID-1 (CR80) card.

Composite Card… A card that consists of a core material (typically polyester) between two surface layers of PVC.

Contact… A point of electrical connection between a smart card and its external interface device.

Contact Card… Any card where information is transferred to a reader via a series of contact points located on the card.

Contactless Card… Smart card which transfers data using radio frequency technology via a transmitter and receiver

Core… The substrate being used in the production of a card

Covert Security… Card features, called Level 2 features, are only visible to trained examiners using basic, readily available tools such as lights or magnifying lenses.

CR80 or ISO ID-1… Standardized card size that is the same as most issued credit cards or bank cards. This is by far the most common size of plastic card and is 3.370” x 2.125” x 0.030” or 85.595mm x 53.975mm x 0.76mm (nominally).

CR100… A card size usually listed as government, military, or oversize with dimensions of 3.88” x 2.63” or 98.5mm x 67mm.

CVC… Card Verification Code is a unique value calculated from the data encoded on the magnetic stripe of a MasterCard card, validating card information during the authorization process.

Data Encryption… The process of transforming processing information to make it unusable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a cryptographic key.

Daylight Opening… Opening in a laminator press between two platens.

Degaussing… Magnetic stripe data erasure.

Digitizing… Conversion of non-textual data to digital form.

Digital Printing… Refers to a method of printing from a digital-based image directly to a card

DoD… Drop on demand printing technology whereby a drop of ink is deposited as needed for the image desired to be printed.

DTC/Direct-to-Card… The use of a dye sublimation printing process to print color directly to an appropriate PVC surface.

Dual Interface Card… Holding both contact and contactless technology on one card.

Dye Sublimation… A printing process that involves the thermal printhead sublimating (transferring the dye from the ribbon to the surface without ever being in a liquid state) dyes carried on YMC ribbons and diffusing them into the surface of the card.

Edge-to-Edge… The maximum printable area on a card providing a clean print with little to no white border area.

Electronic Purse… Smart card stored value program.

Embedded SIM… An embedded chip for the Subscriber Identification Module in a smart card that does not have to be removed or changed when selecting a different MNO mobile network operator.

eSIM… An electronic SIM card that replaces the physical, plastic SIM card smartphones use with a virtual embedded equivalent that cannot be removed.

EMVCO… EMV standards body collectively owned by AMEX, JCB, Mastercard, Visa

Embossing… Characters in relief on the front surface of a card.

Encoding… Recording electronic information on to a magnetic stripe.

Encryption… Transferring information based on a key to make it intelligible to unauthorized parties.

Financial Cards… Cards issued by brands like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, UnionPay and others, can be Credit, Debit, Prepaid and ATM/PIN

FIPS… Federal Information Processing Standards by U.S. Government

Flat Card Printing… Dye sublimation printing, direct to card or reverse transfer, used to personalize a card. Can also include mass transfer printing for personalization data elements like barcodes or Drop on Demand printing for high speed operations. Typically used in place of embossing.

Foil Stamping… Or hot stamp printing is achieved by using pressure and heat to affix colored foil in to the plastic surface.

Font… Is a character set (alphabet and numerals) of a specified design and size.

Four Color Process… Printing in full color using four color separation of yellow, magenta, cyan and black. When blended, these four colors can reproduce the widest range with the fewest inks when printing.

Fulfillment… The process by which the card is matched to a letter, inserted into an envelope including additional support or promotional materials and delivered to the post office, courier or other delivery method.

Gift Card…A retail prepaid card usually initiated at cash or check out.

Government/Health Cards… Cards issued by governments for Benefits, ID, Driver’s Licenses, Passport Cards and Healthcare Cards both public and private.

GSM… Global System for Mobile Communication, a widely used digital mobile phone standard.

HiCo… Meaning high coercivity and is a type of magnetic stripe that requires a field of at least 2750 Oersteds to be altered.

HID® iClass®… A type of contactless smart card utilizing the 13.56 MHz frequency for access control cards.

Hologram… A flat optical image which looks three-dimensional to the naked eye.

Holographic foil…The foil used to carry embossed holographic images.

ICC… Integrated Circuit Card usually a plastic card sized card with an embedded integrated circuit.

ID/Membership Card…Cards issued by clubs, associations etc., not security documents issued by governments

Initialization… Programming a smart card chip with data that is the same for a batch of cards.

Ink Jet Printing… Is a type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto plastic or other substrates.

Inlay… Is the special substrate layer that contains the chip and other electric components in the construction of smart cards.

ISO… International Standards Organization, central body for formation and dissemination of industry standards for all national standards bodies.

Issuer/Issuing Bank… The financial institution (e.g. a licensed member of MasterCard, VISA etc.) which holds contractual agreements with and issues cards to cardholders.

JPEG… A very common form of image compression file. This type of file may be opened in many programs.

Key Card… A plastic card used to gain access to premises, usually associated with magnetic stripe and contactless, proximity cards.

Lamination…Using plates on a press to fuse the various layers of a plastic card together.

Laser engraving… Is a subset of laser marking using lasers to engrave an object, while laser marking is a term covering a broad spectrum of surfacing techniques including printing, hot-branding and laser bonding.

Lithography or Offset Printing… Most common process for plastic card printing based on the concept that oil and water are not compatible. The ink represents the oil and the alkaline fountain solution represents the water. These are the two main components which must interact during the printing process, allowing the ink to adhere to the image area of a printing plate while the fountain solution repels the ink from the non-image area.

LoCo… Low coercivity and is a type of magnetic stripe that only requires a field of at least 300 Oersteds to be altered.

Loyalty Card…Usually a retail frequent user card offering promotional benefits.

Magnetic Stripe…The strip of magnetic recording material on an ID card.

MEA… Middle East & Africa regional market

Membership Card… Usually a club member card for ID purpose.

Memory Card… Smart card that stores and retrieves serial “streams” of data that are sent to or received from the semiconductor chip.

Microprocessor Card… Contains a microprocessor chip with a microcode that defines a command structure, a data file structure and a security structure in the card.

Microtext… A security feature using tiny or microscopic printing on a card surface generally using retransfer printers or printers equipped with a laser engraver.

MIFARE®… A specific type of contactless smart card that is a registered trademark of Philips Semiconductors.

MNO… Mobile Network Operator

Mobile Phone Card… Cards that carry the chip to operate the phone

Multi-application Card… Smart card that can handle a variety of applications.

NA… North American regional market

Nano SIM… A smaller Subscriber Identification Module in the smart card necessary for the operation of mobile phones

NFC… Near Field Communications which is a contactless communications Standard that allows two devices that are near each other to communicate, it enables contactless payments with smartphones.

Non-magnetic Card… Cards without a magnetic stripe e.g. ID cards.

Oersted… The unit of magnetic coercive force used to define difficult of erasure of magnetic material.

Off-line… A transaction via paper or reader not connected to a central system.

On-line… A transaction on a terminal permanently connected to a network that is on-line to the card account.

Open Loop… Refers to a card that can be used at any retail or business location accepting financial branded cards like AMEX, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay and Visa etc.

Optical Card… Card with information recorded on an optical memory stripe, similar to compact disks.

Other Cards… Usually miscellaneous cards like Pay TV cards, campus cards.

Overlay… Is the top and bottom layer of the card body used in card construction.

Overcoat/Overlay… A thin, clear panel applied to the surface of printed cards that prevents premature wear from contact or fading from exposure to UV sources.

Overlaminate/Laminate… A layer of protective material that is applied to the card surface after print and protects the card from physical wear and fading from UV exposure or chemical solvents.

Oversize Cards… Have dimensions in excess of the standardized ID-1 (CR-80) size (3.370” x 2.125”).

Over-the-Edge… Meaning that the maximum printable area of the printer exceeds the dimension of the card material, which makes it possible to produce cards with absolutely no border edges.

Overt Security… Card features, or Level 1 features, are visible to the naked eye or are tactile and can be felt via touch. They include elements such as holograms, colored inks and security threads which do not require any tools or devices to detect them.

Pay TV Card… Usually a chip card subscribing to a television service e.g. satellite TV.

PCI Compliance… Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard

PCI SSC… Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council which is a global standards organization for the interoperable payments industry.

PCI DSS… Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard which are the standards that all merchants accepting credit card payments must comply with.

Personalization… Printing, encoding and programming a card with data specific to an individual cardholder.

PIN… A personal identification number and is a unique code number that you must enter every time you use a (usually a debit) transaction card.

PIV… Personal Identification Verification

PKI… Public Key Infrastructure

PMS… Pantone Matching System used by printers for color standardization.

Prepaid Card… A card paid for at point of sale permitting the holder to buy goods and services up to the prepaid value.

Promotional Card… A card offering special benefits to users e.g. discount card.

Protected Memory Card… Smart card that requires a secret code or PIN number to be entered before the data can be sent to or received from the semiconductor chip.

Proximity Card… A contactless card whose presence and data can be sensed by an interface device not in physical contact with the card.

PVC… Polyvinyl chloride, the most widely used plastic material for ID cards.

QR Code… A type of matrix barcode first designed for the automotive industry in Japan.

Radio Frequency Card (RFID)…A proximity card in which the coupling between the card and the interface device is by radio.

Read Head… A device used to read data encoded on the magnetic stripe.

Resolution… The dimension of the smallest element of an image that can be printed. Usually stated as dots-per-inch (dpi).

Resin Thermal Transfer… Printing with a resin monochrome ribbon or a resin K panel on a full-color ribbon, your printer’s thermal printhead transfers the resin from the ribbon onto the surface of the card using high heat and fuses the resin to the surface of the card.

Retail/Gas Cards…Cards issued by retailers and oil/petrol companies for credit or debit/prepaid transactions.

Retransfer/Reverse Transfer… A process that involves printing from the ribbon to a clear or holographic transfer film instead of a PVC card surface, then binding that transfer film to the surface of a card.

Rewritable Cards… Using specific card types and printers to produce monochrome prints on plastic that can be erased and re-written dozens of times.

Scratch off panel/label… A destructible top coating covering printed data to conceal from public viewing and can be scratched off for viewing.

Secure Card… Cards with an intrinsic value. e.g. financial, other secure etc.

Serialization… Consecutive or sequential numbering

Silkscreen Printing… Method in which ink is forced through a design-bearing screen made of silk or other material onto the substrate being printed.

Signature Panel… The area of an ID card where the cardholder enters a signature.

SIM… Subscriber Identification Module: the smart card necessary for the operation of GSM phones.

Skimming… Copying the magnetic stripe encoding from one card to another.

Smart Card (aka Chip Card, IC Card) … A plastic credit card sized card that contains one or more semiconductor chips.

SET… Secure Electronic Transaction, a MasterCard/Visa backed standard to allow safe Internet trading via encryption certification of all parties involved in a transaction.

Start Sentinel… A designated character in an encoding character set which is used to identify the start of a data field and cannot be used for data.

Stored Value Card (aka cash card, electronic purse, prepaid card) … A financial card that is loaded with a certain amount of money with each purchase amount deducted from the card.

Substrate… Material upon which a plastic card is printed.

Telecom Card… Magnetic or chip card used for telephone services e.g. GSM card, prepaid card.

Telephone Scratch Off Card… Cards with a scratch off area to reveal an identifier to enable phones, internet service etc.

Teslin®… A durable plastic substrate made predominately of silica manufactured by PPG Industries.

Thermal Printing… A process of creating an image on a plastic card using a heated print head.

Third-Party Processing… The processing of transactions by service providers acting under contract to card issuers or acquirers.

Tokenization… A technology that replaces payment card data with a unique secure token.

Track… A strip of specified width and location running the length of the magnetic stripe on which data is encoded. ISO standards define three track locations for financial cards, called Track 1, 2 and 3; the tracks are 0.110″ wide, with Track 1 closest to the card top edge.

Traditional Card… A magnetic or non-magnetic card not using chip card technology.

Transportation/Transit Card… Magnetic or chip card used for transportation services e.g. subway card.

UHF… Ultrahigh Frequency, a contactless card frequency range between 300 MHz and 3 GHz achieving a very high read range.

UV Printing… UV printing is used to print on plastic, foil, and specialty substrates. UV light is used to dry specially formulated inks that are printed on non-porous materials. In conventional printing, ink dries as it is absorbed into paper. Because plastic is not absorbent, the ink must be dried on the top surface using UV light.

WatermarkUsually a faint background image across the whole card design or in a particular location that indicates a security level or authenticity.

Weigand Wire… Magnetic media embedded in cards for access control applications.

WIP… Work in Process

YMCKYellow, Magenta, Cyan, and Black, the designation of the four-color separations in full color printing.

YOY%… Year Over Year percentage growth