The exchange of business cards is a long-standing tradition that spans all the way back to the 15th century when folks in China used to exchange “visiting cards” or “calling cards” – cards that visitors wrote their names, notes or messages. The cards were introduced in Europe in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIV.
Bobbie Johnson, Technology reporter for BBC News, has written a thought-provoking article on the effect technology is having on business cards.
He first looks at the how technology is providing a variety of alternatives to the old-fashioned card. For example, with Bump Technology, users can swap contact details by tapping their phones together and some people are exchanging details through social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The line between professional and personal is certainly becoming blurred. These tools certainly have a number of advantages – it’s easier to share more information, such as portfolios and CVs, than what one could fit on a business card and as quoted by an employee of Bump: “It’s easy, always on your phone, and you never have to remember to grab a stack of physical cards or worry about them running out.”
Johnson also looks at how technology is evolving the traditional paper business card. Technology has fuelled the age of mass personalisation – we can personalise our wallpaper on our mobile phone, card companies like Moonpig.com and Hallmark allow their customers to create their own personalised greeting cards, we can personalise our own Nike shoes on their online site and even design our own Mini Cooper. Companies like Moo.com are allowing customers to personalise their business cards to create hundreds of cards which each carry different, personalised images to reflect the personality of their business. Johnson also touches on some of the cultural traditions of business cards – “While Americans might casually flip out a card from their wallet, for example, Japanese executives will carefully present their cards with both hands as a sign of respect.” 
Business cards are international business etiquette and it is important to be inclusive – paper and electronic – and culturally diverse when exchanging them.
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To read the full BBC article click here
To read more on the history of business cards click here