A Silicon Valley-based startup plans to reduce the thickness of wallets around the world by combining multiple credit cards into a single card that can be used for swiping at point of sale.
Credit cards are as much a part of one’s every day life as cold cash. But while credit cards are convenient for use in online purchases, swiping at point-of-sale is still a popular way of making payments, even as online and mobile payment facilities are trying to introduce tap-to-pay systems and other contact-less methods of transferring funds from a mobile wallet.
After all, these technologies involve a learning curve. Swiping a card and then signing on the receipt is just simpler, especially for folks who have been used to doing this for years.
Coin, a startup based in Silicon Valley, plans to address the need to simplify credit card holders’ lives by combining multiple cards into a single one. The plan is to launch a replacement card that can store data from up to eight cards. These can be any type, including credit card, debit card, ATM or loyalty card. Basically anything you can swipe into a magnetic reader can be incorporated into Coin.
The startup is backed by famed Silicon Valley incubator Y-Combinator, and will soon launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise at least $50,000 so it can start producing cards. Each will cost $100 nominally, but early backers can get one for $50 each.
Storing and saving a card into Coin is quite straightforward. Users swipe the card using a bundled magnetic card reader that plugs into a smartphone, and will then need to take a photo of the card’s front and back sides. The Coin app will then encrypt and store the data on the smartphone. Users can switch across card data through a button on the Coin card itself, or through the smartphone app. A Bluetooth-enabled phone is required, however, because the Coin card communicates with the phone through Bluetooth, and will be disabled if it is away from the phone for more than 10 minutes, as a security measure.
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Coin assures users of security, as data is stored with 128-bit encryption. The company is also working on full PCI-compliance, which is an essential standard among credit card issuers and financial institutions.
Mobile payments are still a contentious space, as startups, developers and banks are vying for attention among consumers and merchants. The likes of PayPal and Isis are trying to push NFC-based contact-less payment systems, although there is, of course, a learning curve. This is perhaps the reason that another startup, Square, has focused on providing plug-in readers that plug directly into a compatible tablet or smartphone. Consumers, it seems, are still used to swiping their cards whenever they make a purchase.
Coin takes this one step further, by actually incorporating different cards into just one, so you don’t have to deal with a very fat wallet.