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The use of QR codes on business cards

Some say QR code business cards do not exist and that this is a fantasy. We say they certainly can and do exist and in more than one flavour as well. Lets have a look at what a QR code for a business card is and what needs to be taken into consideration before using one.

Why put a QR code on a business card
To save a person having to retype all the information into their digital contact list. However the flip side of the coin is that you will have a square 2D bar-code on your business card, and this may not be esthetically pleasant to the 'look and feel' of the card that represents you and your business.

Digital contact information
Forms and specifications of exchanging digital contact information (electronic business card) is nothing new, it was defined in 1995 the 'Versit Consortium' and was represented by Apple, AT&T, IBM and amoungst others also Siemens. It became known as the vCard specification. It was developed to make it easy to exchange contact information between platforms that supported address lists and soon was supported by most e-mail clients. It was also shortly after that dumped by nearly everyone because attaching a digital business card to a signature in an email caused an incredible increase in spam because this was an ideal way for email harvesters to get new email addresses and send more spam. So much for e-mail and electronic business cards.

With the invention of the mobile phone another standard designed for these devices appeared in the late 1990. Called the 'MeCard', it was simple and could exchange basic contact information like name and phone number.

There are two different ways of exchanging electronic contact information
The vCard has a comprehensive feature set, allowing for multiple private and business telephone numbers, websites as well as url's and even embedding image data, while the MeCard format is for fast simple basic contact information transfer.

Electronic business card QR code example:

Mecard QR Code vCard QR Code
Mecard QR code vCard QR code

The contact information in the QR codes above are the same with the MeCard QR code having a smaller surface area or 'footprint', this is because of the internal data formating required to get the information in the correct format into the QR code.

Which one would you prefer
The Mecard is small in size, does not allow you to put in a company name, or a fax number nor many other business related information objects, so this can be a problem for professional use.

Size does matter
Idealy a QR code on a business card should be as small as possible and contain as much business contact information as needed, here is the first of two points where those who claim that a QR code business card does not exist may have a point. Looking at the vCard, that can contain vast amounts of information, a QR code cannot, like a balloon it has it limits in how much it can store. Making it less than the ideal transfer method to exchange information. A typlical example is the ability of the vCard to hold and transfer an image, a QR code simply does not have the capacity, and if it did, it may need a business card of large proportions to be able to print a readable QR code on it.

Vcard sounds great but has limits and creates a large footprint QR code whereas MeCard is great for personal use but serves the business community badly.

Dynamic QR codes to the rescue

Imagine if you could use the full potential of the vCard specification, like company name and details, fax numbers, even an image of yourself or your company building. It is in fact possible using a dynamic QR code and an Internet service. One company offering advanced contact and vCard information exchange is QR4 with their managed vCard+ service.

QR Code Business Card Example


QR Code Business Card

Results on an iPhone

vCard+ Contact Page vCard+ Contact Information
 vCard+ Screen  vCard+ contact information

This is a very clever QR code application using encrypted URL parameters to prevent accidental or forceful access to other peoples information via the internet and recognizes the different mobile phone models and compensates for their weaknesses, The best part is it supports social network links and a few extras that are not dealt with by the vCard protocol. The owner of the QR code is able to change and keep the contact information updated, So even after a move to a new address, rendering the old printed business cards obsolete, the QR code will still provide the current information.


Posted by: jeroen Steeman
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Categories: QR Code Business Cards | QR Code Use | QR Codes
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