Guys, do you long for relief from years of sitting atop a leather-bound lump of credit cards?
Ladies, are you sick of fumbling through that plastic vault of Visas, these-as and those-as that you routinely slot and shove willy-nilly into your wallet and purse?
Behold the Coin: the card to literally end all cards.
Cooked up by a seven-member San Francisco startup, Coin looks like a fatter, relatively featureless doppelganger of that motley assortment you lug around with you every day. It has a mag stripe just like a credit or debit card, but that’s where the similarity ends. There are no embossed digits, numerals, UPC or QR codes typically found on gift, loyalty or membership cards. Instead, Coin has a feature none of those legacy systems possess: the ability to swallow their data whole and duplicate them old-school at the cash register.
Coin runs counter to the recent trend toward digital wallets that turn your smartphone into a payment device. While a Coin app, Square-like dongle and smartphone camera are required to load and catalog your cards into Coin, once there, each becomes available for you to swipe or spend electronically at the push of a select-a-card button on the Coin’s face.
Oh, and Coin does something else that your old inert plastic never dreamed of: If you leave it behind at a bar, restaurant or gym locker, Coin chimes in via a Bluetooth signal to your phone that lets you know your card isn’t where it should be — that is, within range of your phone.
Let’s geek for a moment. Other features aside, the way-cool thing about Coin is its patent-pending mag stripe, which replicates the mag stripe characteristics of whichever archived card you choose. This clever bit of retro engineering is the secret sauce that enables a smart digital device (Coin) to mimic a legion of insentient ones (your cards).
Another feature you’ve never enjoyed with any card is the ability to set your own security parameters. Coin automatically locks down should it stray too far from your smartphone, but you’ll be able to override that techno tether to use it far from your phone or disable it should your Coin and phone be misplaced or stolen.
What’s likely to be Coin’s biggest drawing card? My vote’s on a half-century of widespread card use. “The consumer gets to keep their habits and the merchants can keep their habits,” agrees Coin CEO Kanishk Parashar.
Early adopters, card enthusiasts and you George Costanzas out there, take note: Coin drops next summer, but is available on the company’s website for presale at $50, half its projected retail price.