The Coin Card
The new age of shopping is upon us. Consumer habits have changed drastically with the emergence of e-commerce and the increasing popularity of plastic capital. With a smartphone, Americans can buy everything from stocks to groceries in one swipe. Few people regularly carry cash, choosing instead credit and debit cards; yet, another newcomer on the shopping scene has emerged as one of the most interesting and ingenious pieces of technology to hit the market in the last decade.
Coin, both the name of the product and the business behind it, is a group of new wave technology heads. The crew includes consumer electronics experts, designers, software engineers and even a former NASA engineer. The innovative team came together to make a simple concept into reality: allow consumers to pay from any account with one card.
Coin is an electronic magnetic stripe card, which functions in theory exactly like any other plastic in your wallet. The difference is that inside, the Coin is more than just a small plastic board. Coin contains microelectronics that allow users to program the card with information from up to eight cards at a time. Suitably for 2014, the product coincides with a mobile app for both iPhone and Droid platforms that will be able to store infinite card information. Users toggle between payment methods using a simple button. A display shows the last four digits of the card in use for clarification.
As with any technology that utilizes and stores payment information, Coin is a high-security device. The team has been fortunate to learn from the mistakes of other digital-payment organizations, and all data communications and storage utilize 128- or 256-bit encryption. In the same vein, other Coin users will not be able to load someone else’s credit card information onto their device. Coin requires that users photograph front and back of cards for identity verification. Because Coin does not display full card numbers, the device is less susceptible to data skimming schemes than the average credit or debit card.
Another security feature that offers an advantage over traditional cards is built into the Coin app. The Coin card links to the user’s mobile device via Bluetooth, operating through a phone application that allows users to manage payment information as well as security options. For example, if the Coin card is left at the bar, in the back seat of a cab, or in the user’s “other purse,” the app notifies the user that the Coin card is not nearby.
An additional security option allows users to automatically disable the card after a certain amount of time out of Bluetooth range of the mobile device. The cardholder knows immediately that the Coin card is missing; instead of making repeated, panicked phone calls to the bar, the cab company and all credit card agencies and banks, users can disable the card immediately right from the app.
The Coin team has already considered many necessary features. If this device is properly executed and does all that its creators claim without major hiccups, the Coin could be a real game changer. Currently, the company is offering a pre-order special, selling the device for only $50 in an effort to boost funding for the first line of Coins. Once in production, the device will sell for $100 and last approximately two years. The card is water resistant and should stand up to the occasional spilled beverage or rainy ATM run. The card is flexible, too, meaning that it is okay to leave the Coin in your wallet and proceed to sit on it.
As time goes on, it will be interesting to see how the Coin develops. All that is promised so far is a range of colors for users to choose (currently the Coin card is available only in “midnight”). There is some potential for further development physically; however, the device’s business uses are potentially endless. A business version of the Coin could be of great use for companies that make many transactions. Instead of handing around the company credit card, or worse yet, leaving it in the visor of the company car, the financial end of the office could easily utilize a Coin system to enable and disable spending on the company account to multiple cardholders, all while tracking which device spends what and where.
Coin will already hold gift card information, a factor that will attract sales-oriented businesses. This device or a similar one could easily track accounts for suppliers and retailers. Instead of sending a bill, these companies could hop on the digital bandwagon and add these lines of credit to a similar system.
Coin is unfortunately still in development, although prototypes have been successful. Pre-order customers can expect to see a card around summer 2014. Until then, consumers should continue to carry normal-size wallets and try to remember to close out their tabs at the end of the evening.