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 embossing layouts used for noname and named embossing processes are different. If you plan to use both noname and named cards, you need to set up layouts for both with your chosen embosser.

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, unless configured otherwise (see section following).

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.

On demand embossing - override card password updated requirement

By default, cards enter the embossing window when the card's password is updated. Once that happens, they are embossed in the next embossing window present in your embossing configuration.

If your embossing configuration includes the ONDEMAND option , the password update is no longer the trigger for the card to enter the next embossing window.

With this option, there are two endpoints you can use to emboss the card:

Talk to your Pismo representative about setting this or open a JIRA ticket with type = Settings.

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:

Card createdThe card has been created.
Card can be added to next scheduled embossingThis event indicates that a physical card is ready to be added to the next scheduled embossing according to the issuer's embossing settings. For nominal cards, you must either change the password or change the password from PINblock or add the card to the next scheduled embossing.
Card embossing notification receivedThis 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.

This event is emitted only in the embossing window timeframe when the embossing file is actually being generated. For example, for noname cards, the embossing window is at 1 am GMT-3, so the embossing-1 events are sent at approximately at this time. For named cards, they are generated in the timeframe of all the embossing windows set up to occur during the day for the specific client.
Embossing rejection file processedThis 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 receivedOccurs when the embossing process is complete, providing summary information.
Card postage processedThis 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 Card embossing notification received 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.