The business card for the digital age

Business cards are major networking tools even though they sometimes seem a bit old school, especially when the internet address of a person’s website is displayed in fine print without QR codes. This is about to change: Moo has launched business cards+ with embedded NFC chips that allow users to connect to mobile digital devices without additional apps.

Business cards are major networking tools even though they sometimes seem a bit old school, especially when the internet address of a person’s website is displayed in fine print without QR codes. This is about to change: The online print and design firm Moo has launched business cards+ with embedded near field communication (NFC) chips that allow users to connect to mobile digital devices and to communicate digital information without additional apps.

The cards are embedded with the same NFC technology used in tap-and-go services like Apple Pay. By just holding a card up to an NFC-enabled smartphone, it will allow users to exchange contact information and point to websites and online portfolios. Moo has developed a cloud-based online platform called paper+ where customers can choose different actions to be performed when the NFC enabled card is connected to a phone.

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“Business cards are the most successful networking technology of all time, but they’ve been the same for centuries,” MOO founder and CEO Richard Moross said in a statement. “Of course we love print, but because we also love the web we wanted to bring those two worlds together, making paper more useful than it’s ever been.”

The platform is URL-based so it’s easy to update or select information or actions to be carried out. The actions range from adding your contact details to someone’s phone automatically to starting a video chat, displaying a portfolio of photographs or download a playlist. The platform allows users to control and change the content the card links to and to see statistics of who clicks on their card and when.

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The cards are compatible with Android and Windows phones at the moment but Apple’s newer iPhones could also be unlocked to work with the technology. While NFC technology is relatively new, Moross sees a critical mass of users out there already. In a blog post, he says that there are many NFC enabled Android phones already in use and 500 million will have been shipped by the end of the year. “Finding someone to tap with should be a cinch,” he writes.

Moo is using Arjowiggins Creative Papers’ Conqueror Alive NFC-enabled paper. The electronics are printed onto a paper base using silver inks. The thin NFC chip is embedded in the circuitry and covered with high-quality business card paper on both sides. The cards can be printed using conventional printing and finishing equipment. Moo customers can choose from a variety of designs or upload their own photos and graphics. The cards cost 36 Euro for a pack of 20 with the Paper+ platform included.

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According to the London-based company Moo, business cards+ are a first step in bridging the gap between the worlds of print and digital information. Kai Turner, MOO’s Senior Product Manager, wrote in a blog post: “MOO is uniquely positioned to bring the Internet of Things to the general public in our pursuit of the future of paper.  I’m excited to explore the physical-to-digital space, create new product categories, and meet lots of innovators, makers and like-minds along the way”. From this announcement, it is almost certain that other NFC enabled paper products will follow, even though Moo hasn’t specified what they are working on yet.