Even as we transition to a digital society where it seems the whole world is stored in our smartphones, cards continue to play an important role in our day-to-day lives. The majority of people, of course, continue to carry bank and payment cards with them despite the emergence of phone-based digital wallets.

Aside from that, loyalty cards, work ID and passes, gym membership, library cards – all of these and more continue to fill our wallets and purses. And very useful they are too, for a wide range of purposes.

But they’re not without their pain points, for businesses and for customers. One is actually having to dispense the cards in the first place. It’s an extra administrative task for staff to complete, and especially at busy times, one that is liable to hold up queues and cause frustration among customers.

There is a solution. Most people are familiar with self-service kiosks these days and will know that they routinely include barcode, RFiD and other scanners that allow them to read cards of various types.

But these days the technology to print barcodes, QR codes, RFiD and other data-containing chips is just as cheap and readily available as the scanners. Fit a kiosk with one of these modules and you have the capability to dispense as well as read cards.

Here are four examples of how this could benefit your business.

On-demand gift cards

Gift cards are a great value-add product for any kind of retailer, not to mention restaurants, leisure and entertainment venues. But they are not the most seamless purchase to process at point of sale, as they have to be loaded with the requested amount.

With a card-dispensing kiosk, the advantages of self-service smooth this out. It avoids queues and hold ups at staffed tills, and also gives the customer the power of customisation. They can load the gift card with whatever amount they want, and even personalise it with a special message.

End-to-end automated loyalty

Loyalty schemes bring businesses a wide range of benefits in encouraging and rewarding repeat business. But again, asking a customer to present their loyalty card at checkout to load points or redeem rewards just added another step – and more time – to the sale process, causing.

These days, modern card technology and scanners on kiosks mean loyalty schemes can be administered quickly and easily, with records updated by the customer with a single swipe. The next step in improving efficiency is to make it possible for customers to apply for and get their loyalty cards independently from the same kiosk, providing a full end-to-end service.

Self-serve membership

Talking of self-service, the same principle applies to any kind of establishment where customers have to apply to be members, such as libraries and gyms. Instead of having to wait at reception, new members could fill their details in independently at the kiosk and get their card printed there and then. It’s quick, efficient and convenient enough to encourage more and more people to sign up.

Accommodation check-in

Finally, another sector that could benefit greatly from the convenience of self-service card printing is hospitality. Hotels now routinely use key cards to activate digital locks on room doors. Printing these cards at a kiosk would allow guests to self check-in, meaning people could turn up around the clock without a reception desk having to be staffed.

Similarly, holiday rentals these days offer self-check in by providing keys in a digital safe and then providing the key code to guests before arrival. But safes can be broken into, giving burglars easy access to the premises. With a key card system and accompanying card dispenser kiosk, guests would have to verify their identify before a unique card activating the door was printed, providing an extra layer of security.