Physical card embossing

There are three types of physical (plastic/metal) card:

  • Mag stripe card – Card data is stored in a magnetic strip. A customer swipes the card to use it. This type of card is easy to counterfeit, because the data in the strip is static.
  • EMV contact card – Card data is stored in a chip. A customer dips (inserts) the card to use it. The cryptography in the chip creates tumbling security codes, making it much harder to counterfeit, but it costs more to issue.
  • Dual interface card – Card data is stored in a chip. There is also an embedded antenna, so a customer can either dip or tap to use the card. This is the most convenient type of card for the customer, but it's the most expensive to issue.

You can use the Pismo platform to issue physical cards using your chosen embossing provider or providers. After setting up your program, you need to meet with your Pismo representative to configure your embossing provider(s) and schedule.

The embossing process occurs daily according to your requested schedule, which can run at different times on different days. During an embossing run, Pismo submits all eligible cards and their required data via an encrypted file to the embosser(s) via OFTP or SFTP.

The following API endpoints allow you to view or revise your personalized embossing configuration information:

For nominal cards, a customer is designated the cardholder at card creation. Noname cards are batch-generated and not initially associated with customers, which occurs later.

The printed name on cards is set when you create an account. After that, you can call the Update card information endpoint to revise it.


The following are embossers Pismo currently work with:

If you have an embosser not listed here that you would like to work with, please let us know.

Embossing rules

A nominal card may not be embossed for the following reasons:

  • Card's account does not have a registered address
  • Address with special characters (non-UTF-8 standard characters)
  • A printed name with special characters (non-UTF-8 standard characters)
  • Does not have a CREATED status
  • The card password has not been updated

When a card is initially created, nominal or noname, Pismo randomly generates a password (PIN). Except for noname cards, the user needs to create their own password before embossing, which the issuer typically prompts them to do. Noname cards are automatically embossed, but before being used, they need to be associated with a customer who then has to change the password before the card is activated.

Embossing API endpoints

You can use the following API endpoints to generate embossed cards:

All of these calls have an embossing_custom_field you can use to send data to your embosser. This field is a string that can store up to 1000 characters, allowing you to personalize it with, for example, a delivery tracking code or to indicate whether the card should be plastic or metal.

Embossing events

Embossed cards generate the following sequence of events:

create-1The card has been created.
embossing_card_ingress-1The card has been added to the embossing queue. For nominal cards to be added, the password must have been updated.
embossing-1This event is generated for each card in the queue as it is being added to the file to be sent to the embosser or rejected. If rejected, the event data contains an error type and an error message.
card_rejection-1This event is generated from the rejection return file that the embosser sends back to Pismo. Currently, the only embosser doing this is EM1.
embossing_summary-1Occurs when the embossing process is complete, providing summary information.
control_post_ingress-1This event is generated when Pismo processes the postage control return file from the EM1 embosser.

As described above, when a card is added to the file to be sent to an embosser or rejected, it generates an embossing-1 event. For a noname card bulk, this means that up to 10,000 events could potentially be generated.

For example (success)


See Event data for more information about events.

See our Data and reporting guide for more information on events and setting up event notifications.