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More wacky, wonderful payment card innovations and gadgets

Jeremy Simon

Plastic doesn’t stand still. Creative people continue to push payment cards in new directions, from allowing use of a prepaid card for medical marijuana purchases to accepting credit card payments on your iPhone. We’ve got these and other wacky, wonderful innovations and gadgets below.

Vending machines accept plastic, provide pot
In Los Angeles, pot can be had with the swipe of a card, now that medical marijuana vending machines have cropped up in several locations around that city.

But not so fast there, Cheech: the machines won’t give weed to just anyone. In order to use the anytime vending machines, or AVMs, medical patients with a marijuana prescription need to first undergo a process familiar to some of their pot-puffing brethren, providing fingerprints and being photographed, before then receiving a prepaid card containing their individual profile. That helps when the time comes to visit an AVM. “The computerized machine requires fingerprint identification and a prepaid card with a magnetic stripe,” MSNBC reports. “Once the card and fingerprint are verified, a bright green envelope with the pot drops down a slot.”

Possibly up next for the vending machines are Viagra, Vicodin and Propecia. “Combine all four for a really interesting night that’ll also slowly grow your hair back!,” says gadget guide Gizmodo.

Eat on the go with credit card utensil kit
Let’s say all that — ahem — card swiping has left you with quite an appetite but no utensils. If you’ve got a pocket, you could already be carrying a miniature fork and spoon, thanks to this handy Credit Card Cutlery picnic kit.

“This credit card consists of a mini range [aka fork] and a detachable mini spoon is ideal for enjoying your salads and yogurts,” reads the Google-translated text on French Web site Materialiste. The kit even includes what appears to be a pellet that becomes a “refreshing towel” when soaked in water.

Here’s hoping someone invents a wallet-sized salad or yogurt container, too.

BMW key starts your car, pays for your groceries
France must be the place for credit card gadget goodies. November’s Cartes & IDentification show in Paris will include the prototype demo of a car key from BMW and NXP that also functions as a credit card.

“While the concept is nothing new with the advent of those fancy little key fobs that let you pay for items with a simple swipe,” writes Web site CrunchGear, “it’s nice to know the automotive industry is finally getting on the bandwagon.”

The device also serves another two-in-one function: enabling forgetful Beemer drivers to lose both their car keys and credit card simultaneously.

Credit card protected with fingerprint sensor
Although credit cards will continue to be lost (and stolen), a new form of plastic could offer some protection.

Biometric and smart card technology developer SmartMetric has created a credit card that is more computer than piece of plastic. It’s outfitted with a processor, more than a gigabyte of memory, a rechargeable battery and a fingerprint sensor. “The company is touting the device as a technologically advanced portable biometric system and the only fingerprint scanner contained on a card that can be used for physical access control and online network authentication,” reports SecureIDNews.

“The intention is to push this card into the credit and bank card industry to remove the need for passwords, PINs and signatures for both in-person and online transactions. The card can be used online via a USB adapter,” SecureIDNews says.

Application turns iPhone into credit card reader
As if the Apple iPhone doesn’t do enough already, a new application makes it possible to accept credit card payments on the popular device.

The application by startup firm Inner Fence “allows you to accept credit card payments, directly on your iPhone or iPod touch, wherever you are,” reports

“Inner Fence explains that Credit Card Terminal acts as a stand alone checkout process,” MacBlogz writes. There is a time and cost commitment ($99 one-time fee in addition to the $49.99 cost of the application itself), as well as requiring both a merchant account and gateway account with “For each transaction processed, will take $0.35 (flat fee). Naturally, the credit card companies get their percentage (between 2.19 percent and 3.3 percent), depending on which card is in use,” MacBlogz writes.

“This application approaches the necessity to process credit card payments in places outside of your office, or online,” MacBlogz says. “Think farmers’ markets, professional photographers, antique shows, art festivals, bands, carnivals, house cleaners, babysitters, et cetera.”

What about freelance marijuana dealers?

See related: 15 of the coolest (and weirdest) credit card gadgets and accessories, New from Korea: credit card / USB combo, Credit card-sized pocket light fits in your wallet, Criminal Charges: Volume V

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  • Kim

    So what we saying is that when I hand over my credit card at a restaurant if the waiter has an iPhone I should be wary of handing over my credit card as he could scan it and if he asks to see my ID then pretty much has everything he needs to clean me out

  • If the Waiter has an Iphone, then they will be able to scan credit card at the table, so he/she will not disappear into the back room to swipe the card.