The future of the membership card is bright – here’s why

The future of the membership card is bright – here’s why

At the time of writing this blog, membership cards still hold the trophy for being the most popular method of identification - a simple piece of plastic at the heart of access control, loyalty schemes and member documentation. But there’s no denying it’s got some stiff competition; particularly from the likes of suave biometric systems and apps.

Can the humble membership card weather the digital storm and hold strong its position? At Xn Leisure, we’re confident that it can.


Badge of honour

The membership card’s continued success thus far can largely be attributed to its adaptability. Whilst the profile of the card has maintained its renowned, wallet-shaped form, the technologies within the card have gone through several evolutions - from magnetic strips and barcodes to chip & pin; even contactless.

More recently, membership cards have migrated online - to the intangible world of the smartphone. People only have to swipe their iPhone or Samsung to gain access into a facility. But this still hasn’t taken precedence over the material version. Why? Probably because it takes just as much effort to launch an app as it does to take a card out of your purse.

Furthermore, members can’t brandish a smartphone like a badge of honour like they can a card. It might sound silly, but it’s true. Take the leisure industry as an example. A person’s gym of choice is a large part of their fitness identity. Whether on social media or through conversation, an app or a fingerprint scan simply can’t be brandished in the same way.



As this leisure industry strides forward at an unparalleled rate, this provides more brand opportunities than ever before. Because a membership card is about more than just access control. It’s a recognisable piece of material that proudly sports your company name, logo and colours. Not just outside of your facilities but inside them too.

Consider the multi-functionality a card can carry in a gym environment. From swiping into the centre itself to accessing lockers and entering different facilities, a member’s card is out and visible all the time. There’s much deeper symbolism to this than one would think. When two people stand side-by-side and swipe into a locker, they know that they are a proud member of a community. A community that exists only because of your brand.

Even with all of the identification methods on the market at the moment, few can boast this ability. Facial scanning might be novel and exciting, but it’s comparatively detached in sentiment. Fobs are equally impersonal and the same can be said about pin or code access.

That’s why we suggest keeping hold of your membership cards for now. Customer loyalty is more and more becoming an endangered trait. Businesses should be doing all they can to keep their members, even if its something as small as letting them carry your brand in their fingertips.

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