The Reason Why Virtually All Credit Cards are the Same Size

People who have seen more than one credit card should be familiar with the fact that credit cards come in the same size. For those who are curious, this is not a coincidence but rather the result of a standard created by the International Organization for Standardization. In short, ISO/IEC 7810:2003 requires that ID cards come in the same size, which happen to include credit cards, debit cards, and ATM cards. As a result, interested individuals have no need to fear that their future credit cards might not come in the same size as their current credit cards barring some kind of huge, unexpected change in the future.

Why Is Standardization So Important?

With that said, this kind of standardization is something that most of us take for granted. For example, when we come upon units of measurement, we know what those units of measurement mean so long as we are familiar with them. However, it is important to note that this kind of standardization isn’t something that came into existence on its own but was instead established through processes that have been happening since the start of human civilization.

In short, units of measurement are important, so much so that they sprung up in regions situated throughout the entire world. Unfortunately, the units of measurement that sprung up in one region would have no connection with the units of measurement that sprung up in another region. Moreover, since the world was much less inter-connected in pre-modern times, this means that there were a lot more units of measurement that saw use in their particular regions but nowhere else in the world. Still, it is amusing to note that some of those units of measurement have nonetheless managed to leave a lasting impact on their modern counterparts, as shown by the fact that the carat was based on the carob seed. As for why carob seeds would matter as a unit of measurement, well, suffice to say that filling containers with seeds was a very useful way for measuring volume in ancient times.

Eventually, some of those units of measurement became more used than others. Sometimes, this was because economic power resulted in some regions becoming more influential than others. Other times, this was because rulers were able to impose their units of measurement on the ruled. For an example, look no further than the First Emperor of China, who didn’t just standardize the script for the Chinese language but also standardized the Chinese units of measurement, which would last until the introduction of decimal units under the Ming Dynasty more than a millennium later.

Over time, the need for standardization increased instead of decreasing. After all, the world was becoming more and more inter-connected, which in turn, meant that people needed to standardize more and more things for greater efficacy as well as greater efficiency. To get an idea of why standardization was so important, imagine the challenges of moving trains between nations if different nations used different dimensions for their railroad tracks. Due to this as well as a countless number of other issues, the International Organization for Standardization was formed in the aftermath of World War 2 for the purpose of helping its member nations to coordinate their efforts on a wide range of subjects, though it was the culmination of an existing trend rather than something that was wholly new.

Nowadays, the International Organization for Standardization has a total of 162 member nations, which is a huge step-up considering how it started out with no more than 25 member nations. However, it is interesting to note that not all of the member nations are entitled to vote on the decisions of the organization as a whole. In short, member nations are divided into three separate categories, two of which lack voting rights. One would be correspondent members, which are countries that don’t actually have standards organizations. Meanwhile, the other would be subscriber members, which are countries with economies that are too small in scale. Regardless, the International Organization for Standardization does valuable work by letting interested parties participate in the decision-making process as well as become informed of it, thus ensuring that the modern world can run in a more effective and more efficient manner than otherwise possible.


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