A round the watercooler discussion with a collegue this morning (Graham Chastney) sparked an interesting discussion about one of lifes Social Norms. Credit and Loyalty Cards and their uses and sizes. The conversation came about as we were discussing paying for a coffee and the merits of cards vs mobile pay systems.
As a society we have over a number of years been enticed with small bits of plastic containing chips and tags for Debit/Credit Cards and Loyalty Cards.
But why is it the size it is?
Forbes have an article that looks at “How Was The Standard Size Of A Credit Card Or A Business Card Established?” The post says:
The credit card was just the business card juxtaposed to the size of the standard business card, for ease of use in the wallet.
Faisal Khan, Forbes
and goes into some of the history behind this as well as a useful infographic on the subject.
Its size has been adopted into many things such as a typical pass to get you through doors at your place of work and past Security/Reception in the morning.
In the main these have stayed the same size with a recent change to keyfob versions of Loyalty Cards, being approx a third in size to the normal cards. I have seen a few dropped and discarded keyfob versions around supermarket car parks as they have fallen off a set of keys through wear and tear.
The standard size of the card has allowed us to secure them in ways that make us comfortable such as wallets, purses, card holders.
With the move to contactless payments there has now been an increase in the variety of RFID blocking wallets availble in the marketplace to help prevent accidental contactless payments and broadcasting of your data.
We also expect to see a standard sized card when someone transacts with us as second nature.
But what is next for the card. Are cards still needed?
One could argue that the card size has changed a lot going to digital payments and not needing the card, but there is something about having that piece of plastic to make a payment with.
There are applications now available that replace your plastic loyalty cards with an barcode on your mobile device that can be scanned at the till.
Going outside of the norm and showing innovation one lady has taken the chip out of her Oyster Card (used around London to pay for and gain access to travel/tube/bus etc) and embedded them into a set of false finger nails.
One company has a single card that can replace up to eight of your cards in your wallet https://onlycoin.com/ storing the data on a chip in the card and allowing you to select the card you want to use via a simple button.
The card size is an integeral part of society and whilst there are many devices built to accept the size of the card (tills, cashpoints, wallets, etc….) it will continue to be the norm. A move to the next generation of Digital Solutions will help reduce the number of cards we carry, however it will still remain as the size of card thats easliy recognisable throughout the world.