Coin Wants To Be The One Card In Your Wallet To Rule Them All, And It Looks Brilliant

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What if you could condense all of the credit, debit, membership, and gift cards in your wallet down to a single card? Companies like Apple and Google have tried to give us digital wallets, but nothing has really caught on. People still feel tied to their physical wallets.

Coin is a new product that became available for preorder today. It looks like a normal credit card at first glance, but Coin is much smarter than your average piece of plastic. A small display and a fancy magnetic strip let you choose from a range of your cards and memberships before paying.

Coin Wants To Be The One Card In Your Wallet To Rule Them All, And It Looks Brilliant

A Square-like card reader attachment that ships with Coin plugs into your iPhone’s headphone jack. Using the Coin app, you swipe each card you want to add using the reader and take a picture so you can quickly recall which card is which if need be. After that, Coin communicates with your iPhone using low-energy Bluetooth and securely stores the data on the card.

You tap a small button on Coin to rotate through the cards you’ve added, and the small display shows you what you have selected with a nickname, the last four digits of the card, and its expiration date. Once the card you want is selected, you hand Coin over to be swiped as if it was the original card, and it supposedly just works.

I say “supposedly” because Coin is still being finished. Preorders are part of a crowdfunding campaign to raise 50K and get the word out, according to CNET. But if you preorder, Coin is promising that you’ll get a black (or “midnight”) color card in the summer of 2014. The Coin’s battery life is said to last two years, which is about the normal expiration date for credit/debit cards anyway.

There are tons of questions to still be answered about Coin, especially when it comes to security. Hopefully we’ll learn more as the team behind the product makes the final decisions in the months to come. One cool feature that was highlighted in the above video is that Coin checks in over Bluetooth with your iPhone. So when your phone and Coin card get separated, a push notification is sent to your phone letting you know you let your Coin behind.

Coin looks like it could be for normal people what Square is for merchants. We’ll see. If you’re interested, you can place your preorder now for $50. The price will double to $100 once preorders start shipping in the summer.

  • EttVenter

    Already pre-ordered mine.

  • iamtravjohnson

    This looks amazing but I can already hear the thousand complaints from people when the waiter or cashier accidentally presses the card button and changes it to an account that they didn’t want. Who knows maybe they’ll figure out a way to avoid this seemingly obvious potential issue.

  • Atienne

    I was going to say that you could lose it and lose all of them, but then you can go home and get the originals until you ordered a new one. So forget that. Better make sure you phone is charged all the time if you are out though. If your phone dies, you are in trouble. The good news is that they are totally making people aware of how easy it is to read / clone their credit cards.

  • lwdesign1

    This is a great idea for convenience and to reduce wallet bloat, but I have questions:

    1. If your Coin gets stolen, the thief will have access to ALL your cards and can drain you dry before you know it. How does Coin protect you from unauthorized use? It needs to know who’s operating the card and that it has your OK.

    2. What’s to stop a thief from buying a Coin and the card reader, getting a job as a cashier, and scanning credit cards to his/her heart’s content for major identity theft? Coin makes it so easy to input cards. What security features are in place to block this from happening?

    3. Does Coin automatically read the 3 digit security number on the back of the card (or the 4 digits on the front with AmEx cards)? I frequently get asked for the security number when using my cards for purchases, and if I don’t have the cards with me, I don’t have this info.

    4. What’s to prevent the waiter or cashier from mistakenly switching cards by accidentally hitting the button?

    5. If a thief has your Coin, how easy will it be for him to access it and download all the credit card information stored in it? Is there some security feature that will block this? You might get your Coin back, but with all the data on it copied, you’re still hosed.

  • Simon

    chip and pin???????

  • markymac

    I have a feeling there’s way more security details to be had with this video serving only as a first-look into what’s possible.

    I’d like to think that things like pulling all the data off and stealing it or the waiter/waitress hitting the button and selecting another card will be handled. Promo or preview videos usually skip over the minutiae so they can get to the point.

    I imagine you hitting the button to select a card then selecting something on your phone that locks it down to just that card thereby disabling all the the other cards from being accessible.

    You can probably see real-time events so when the card is swiped it could throw up an alert or indicator that card #2 is being used and hopefully display the amount.

    Here’s hoping they include a map of where you made purchases this way you can do a GPS audit of your purchases and retrace your steps.

    One thing’s for sure: if they can pull this off the people involved will be billionaires several times over. Now all I have to do is get my driver’s license and medical insurance card to be legal with just my phone and I can stop carrying a wallet all together.

  • swapniljn

    Earlier I had a concern about skimming of data, but now apparently the app tells you how many time your card was read. So you would eventually know if it was used somwhere else ! moreover now they are offering a morse code style pwd which you need to click after you select a card so that the waiter cannot cycle through other cards !

    Pre order one now !
    https://onlycoin.com/?referral=wX0z9AEU

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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