7 questions about the digital business card — away with the old cardboard companion
Business cards have always been part of maintaining contacts, be it business contacts, services or connections made at events or appointments. But let’s be honest: collecting all those cards, transferring the contact information into digital form and tweaking it with every change is tedious as well as error-prone. “Classic” business cards also tend to get misplaced or end up in the trash. This is a sad end to potentially important information, especially in the business sector. How can data be exchanged in a world that is becoming more and more digitalized, where physical presence is morphing into digital tools such as Webex or Zoom, and where face-to-face meetings are decreasing as a result? Granted, classic business cards are still predominant – small companies and medium-sized enterprises tend to act conservatively here, using the tried and tested way. But does this really have to be the case?
In these times of climate change, with the focus on more sustainability and digitization, the business card is also slowly but surely undergoing a transformation. Nowadays, everyone has digitized contacts, most often in their handheld device’s address book. Filling in information manually, which is prone to errors, can make it difficult to maintain contacts. The ideal solution: the V-Card.
What is the V-Card anyway, and what advantages and functionalities does it offer? In the following fact check, we have compiled the most important information for you.
What is a digital business card (V-Card)?
A V-Card is nothing more than a universally applicable business card in digital form. It can be added directly to the address book of another recipient with a click or a scan, and can be used immediately. This means no more manual entering of information, no mistakes due to misspelled addresses, with easy data updates. The V-Card is ideal to keep contacts continually up to date and available especially for cell phones. Plus, there is no restriction of the number of V-Cards that can be stored – contact data is limitless!
What are the advantages of a V-Card compared to a classic business card?
The advantages of the V-Card are manifold and future-oriented. The aspect of environmental protection and sustainability are an absolute plus point of the digital business card. Every year, more than 10 billion business cards are printed worldwide, which is the equivalent of approximately 16 tons of paper or 9,500 trees used. And up to 90% of these cards are thrown into the trash within the first month. Using the V-Card can put an end to this waste of precious natural resources.
Another advantage is the fast and error-free transmission of data. With a simple scan, a business card can be transferred directly to a business partner’s cell phone. Additionally, whenever changes occur, they are automatically updated at the contact point. There is no limit to the number of V-Cards that can be stored. Theoretically, millions of contacts can be maintained simultaneously and accessed directly, which would be impossible with classic business cards – and all this without cutting down a single tree. Another advantage is the possibility of customizing V-Cards. Everyone can create several digital business cards, suitable for any occasion and containing different information. With a classic business card, there are limitations; in cases of last-minute or sudden changes, it can take a while to have the adjusted data printed on a new cards.With any alteration of one’s enterprise and/or position, all those old business cards are invalid and end up in the trash. With V-Card, any changes can be stored digitally within seconds and is automatically updated for all contacts.
How can I create a V-Card?
A digital business card can be created with any classic e-mail program. Contact information must simply be stored and maintained in the program. There are also other possibilities: Unite is one of the first providers to offer a complete system for digital data management and creation of V-Cards. Here, digital business cards can be designed and modified independently. Data is also secure in accordance with data protection laws and cannot be disclosed, therefore non-transferable to unauthorized persons. Information updates are stored quickly and are applied directly to all contacts.
How can I send a digital V-Card?
There are several ways to send a digital business card, the first being an e-mail attachment. The V-Card is attached to the e-mail to be sent and then saved by the recipient as a contact. Another option is via NFC (Near-Field-Communication). Depending on the hardware used, however, errors can occur during transmission (e.g. incorrect reproduction of contacts). Another way is via apps like Unite. Here, your own contact data is maintained and kept up-to-date in the app and can be forwarded directly to people who also use the app. A big plus is that you can create different V-Cards to customize your information for any occasion or contact.
What data should I store on my V-Card?
As mentioned above, the Unite app allows you to create different V-Cards so you can always decide which data is included and shared in which business card. For some business contacts, it is essential to list the position in the company as well as the e-mail address. For other non-business contacts, you might want to include social network profiles or your private cell phone number. There are no limits to what information is shared and with whom, which offers unprecedented flexibility. The aspect of automatic updating of contact information is a huge advantage here, as all data is always up to date and connection can be maintained without any problems.
Are V-Cards only useful for the business sector?
This question can definitely be answered with “No.” Contact management also applies to the private sector. The maintenance of loose, irregular contacts or contacts to people who live far away is sometimes particularly difficult, as changes of contact information like a new mobile number or e-mail address are not always communicated immediately and the contact could therefore be broken off. With the automatic updating of data via Unite’s digital V-Cards, this is a thing of the past. The application area of V-Cards thus goes far beyond the business sector, because contacts and their maintenance play an elementary role in the private sector as well.
What role does the V-Card play in connection with social media and data security?
The trend toward networking digitally on the web via content and media has increased sharply in recent years. As a result, new social media platforms are developing all the time, hypes are even more extreme, and the periods between major changes are becoming shorter. It’s long since stopped being all about Instagram and Facebook. Networks like TikTok and Clubhouse show that a social network can go viral and gain traction in a very short time. Due to the shortened time periods and the so-called “social cross-platforming” (generating traffic on socials via other socials), creators are increasingly forced to serve several platforms with partly different formats. For the user or consumer, this leads to a pronounced, simultaneous use of several social networks. In order to make account management easier, there are more and more tools that can be used to manage existing interfaces more efficiently and serve multiple accounts simultaneously. However, despite the fact that virtually all socials are designed to be operated on smartphones, there is no common solution for better transparency of data exchange on smartphones. Unite offers comprehensive options for tracking transaction history and maintaining a more efficient overview of accounts. The issue of security is more relevant than ever, with data protection a top priority at V-card. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in place in Europe since 2018 to protect Europeans’ data and its value. The collection and gathering of data are fundamentally something positive, as they are used to improve processes and make forecasts more accurate. What is important, however, is how the data is analyzed, what the results and insights are used for, and who receives them.
At Unite, we place the highest value on the security of your data. For this purpose, we have chosen servers that are located exclusively in the EU and comply with the DSGVO. We ourselves only read the data anonymously for the purpose of internal optimization. In addition, all transactions are encrypted end-to-end and only decrypted for the recipient. A view into developments, forecasts and trends is also interesting. Demand for innovations in smartphone-based contact exchange has risen sharply in recent months. This is particularly evident from the fact that more and more companies are launching products in this area. Most of these products are based on near-field communication (NFC) technology. The disadvantage of this technology is the capped transmission rate of data as well as the app and hardware dependency.
Another solution is to use dynamic QR codes on paper business cards for contact data transmission. This makes it easier to keep data up to date and access it. Here, too, however, the user is dependent on various parameters that can affect functionality in everyday life. Furthermore, this does not offer any improvement in terms of the use of wood as a raw material for business cards, nor in terms of the security aspect of the transmission itself.
In the long term, the advance of the digital business card is therefore unstoppable. The increasingly efficient use of new technologies is also continuously increasing the added value of V-cards.
What can we conclude?
The classic business card will remain an integral part of contact management for the time being, especially in the business world. It is simply too well established, both historically and in business terms. Many companies are only at the beginning of a longer transformation process as far as digitization is concerned. Moving away from traditional, conservative methods is a big step that often also involves financial outlay and perhaps a bit of nostalgia. The V-Card helps private individuals, as well as business people to take the first step by digitizing their contacts. Everyone has the opportunity to create a V-Card and establish this type of contact exchange in their private and professional environment.
In light of advancing climate change, the importance of sustainability and the personal demand for an ecologically justifiable life, everyone should ask themselves whether they want to continue to rely on classic business cards or whether they are really necessary. Change rarely happens in leaps and bounds; it usually occurs in small, considered steps. The advantages of switching to V-Card speak for themselves: more flexibility, more sustainability and more innovation.
Using a V-Card can make a great first impression at the next business meeting and, more importantly, a progressive one. This could lead to a decisive advantage for future cooperation.
Take your future into your own hands and set an example for change – with your V-Card!
translated by Andrea Huber