French smart card vendor Gemplus has launched a range of innovative and unconventional card designs, dubbed "plastic fantastic", which it says will enable card issuers to differentiate their offerings.
Gemplus says the launch is in recognition of an industry trend in which card issuers are changing the way they address the market. With greater competition coming from non-bank competitors, financial institutions are seeking greater brand visibility and to differentiate their offerings, says the vendor.
The range features transparent and perfumed cards along with heat sensitive cards. Tactile cards are also available in three textures - denim, sand and snake, as well as glow-in-the-dark, 3D and holographic effect cards. The range also includes cards in unconventional shapes, such as mini cards and curved cards.
Philippe David, vice president, business development, financial services, Gemplus, says: "There is now so much competition in the industry that card issuers such as banks, credit card issuers and retailers are continually looking for ways to set themselves apart.
"They need to have dedicated offers that appeal to different target audiences and one of the most visual ways to manifest this is through innovative card bodies. This is a trend that Gemplus is well equipped to meet."
In December Japanese card company JCB launched its Linda scented payment card. The card, which is aimed at women, features a citrus-based fragrance.
Akiko Kusunoki, assistant supervisor, sales promotion, JCB says the card was developed following an online survey of 6000 customers.
"More than half of the respondents indicated that fragrance, through aromatherapy, perfume, bath oils and much more, plays an important part in their lives," says Kusunoki. "We chose scent marketing expert Pixen and they developed an exclusive Linda Sweet Card fragrance for us featuring the upbeat citrus notes of mandarin, grapefruit and lemon."