How Apple Card has made metal bank cards great again

Over the years, we knew bank cards as plastic-only. There’s nothing seditious about this, but often you have to look for a bank card from many other cards: loyalty cards, travel cards, subscriptions to sports clubs etc. Metal bank cards, of course, existed before, but they were given only to the most premium customers.

Last year this tradition was broke. Apple was one of the first to launch a massive production of metal bank cards in March 2019, setting a precedent. Of course, the premiumness of such cards is preserved, but this is no longer the prerogative of J.P. Morgan Reserve, Capital One or Gold Mastercard Gold Card.

Full metal apple

Right now, Apple Card Titanium works only in the USA. The Apple metal card has a number of limitations — it doesn’t support contactless payment, its cashback is only 1% in retail, which is objectively small. But the lack of NFC is not an obstacle for potential and current premium card holders, because you can pay non-contact using a smartphone.

In the USA, the card will work together with Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks, founded back in 1869, and with Mastercard.

Let me tell you more about the “physics” of the metal card. Hans-Rudolph Wenck, a mineralogist from the University of Berkeley, found out that 90% of the Apple card really consists of titanium, while the remaining 10% is aluminum. Cardholder name is laser engraved. Yes, this is beautiful, but there’s a slight minus. Apple told it’s better not to store a metal card with others — plastic can scratch it. And fabrics can cause discoloration. Also, don’t use household cleaners, abrasives, solvents, ammonia, aerosols, or compressed air to clean the card. Well, this is tough

The roots of the Apple metal card

As you may know, Apple products are based on two pillars — a high-quality design and the ability to create their own ecosystem, combining all personal devices into a single organism. Let’s face it — Apple devices are simply nice to hold in your hands. And the minimalistic design of the Apple Card is no exception.

A metal card is just a thin sheet of titanium, on the front side we can see an engraved cardholder hame, the Apple logo and the chip. On the reverse side there is a magnetic strip and a signature. As I wrote above, NFC technology is not provided (it’s clear you can pay non-contact using an iPhone), and the application will show the card number and CVC.

In fact, minimalism in card design is not new. Leading banks have gradually abandoned the practice of issuing cards with ridiculous pictures, and European online banks have become pioneers in this. For example, the British Revolut, which also produces cards without numbers, and the German N26, which uses transparent cards. Their decisions were inspired by Apple experts.

Apple as a trendsetter

Entering any business niche, Apple is steadily becoming a trendsetter in it. Light metal laptops, similar to the MacBook, are launched by Chinese companies, the iPhone has been an example for smartphone design for more ten years, and the “AppStore style” is already a household name. In other words, Apple generates a media agenda in both design and technology.

The same thing happened with metal bank cards. In order to revive the premium card segment and stir up the media, East European banks, including Ukrainian ones, issued metal cards.

In Ukraine, the first Ukrainian neobank promptly reacted to the topic of metal cards. The audience of the “iron” mono card is large investors and upper middle-class customers. Unlike an Apple card, it has an NFC chip that allows you to pay contactlessly.

Two other major Ukrainian banks, Oschad and Privat, have not yet mastered the issue of metal cards.

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank