Imagine you are traveling in Spain with your best friend and just bought a pair of Spanish leather boots. They are on sale at 40% off and you are unwillingly controlling your excitement. You can’t wait to celebrate at a wine bar and you have already dreamt of olives and cheese but as you hand over one of the 3 credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, you find out that none of them fit in the credit card machine. A bit agitated, you figure out a way to get to the closest ATM so you can pay cash for your beautiful shoes. The machine does not pull in the debit card – the hole is of a completely different size. What do you do?

Can you imagine a world where every country establishes their own set of dimension for credit cards? How would someone even design a wallet with different sized slots or convince the millennials to use money orders or traveler’s checks?

Thankfully, the standardized solution set its roots a long time ago when businessman Frank McNamara forgot his wallet while dining out in a New York City restaurant. He felt embarrassed and swore to never let it happen again. A year later, he and his partner visited the same restaurant but this time paid with a small cardboard, known today as a Diner’s Club Card. Very soon, businesses in the UK, Canada, Cuba, and Mexico started honoring Diner’s Club, making it the first internationally accepted charge card. By 1967, this small concept and the same card stretched out to 130 countries.

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We live in a world where all identification cards including ATM cards, credit cards, debit cards, driving licenses, identity cards, public transit cards, etc. follow the same ID-1 format of 85.60 x 53.98mm based on an international standard ISO/IEC 7810. The characteristics specified include not only the physical dimensions but also resistance to bending, flame, chemicals, temperature and humidity, and toxicity.

Someone was clearly spending time doing futuristic thinking and thought of implementing standard requirements, a common testing methodology, and same measurement techniques. We now live in a world where anyone can go anywhere and buy anything.

Standardization – one of the core pillars of Quality.