With all the hype surrounding mobile payments these days, the industry faces a monumental problem: Credit cards are already pretty easy to use.
Now Coin, a Y Combinator-backed startup, is out to make all of the cards in your wallet even more convenient.
The company is launching a crowdfunding campaign today for its Coin connected credit card, which can store any card — be it credit, debit, or loyalty — for easy access. Coin aims to raise $50,000 so that it can start producing its cards soon. It plans to sell the cards for $100, but those who preorder will get it for $50.
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In a brief demo of Coin’s technology, I can confirm that it actually works: Simply swipe your cards using a card dongle like Square’s, take a picture of their front and back, and Coin’s app securely stores all of the card information for you. You can hold up to eight cards on the Coin card at once, which you can cycle through using a small button and display on the front of the card (an unlimited amount of additional cards can be swapped over from the Coin app). Paying is as simple as swiping like a normal credit card.
The Coin card uses Bluetooth low-energy technology to stay connected to your smartphone for swapping cards. As a security precaution, the Coin card disables itself if it’s away from your phone for more than 10 minutes. (Yes, that means trouble if your phone runs out of battery.) All of the card information in the Coin app is protected with 128-bit encryption, and the company says it’s working on full PCI compliance (essential for many companies).
Unlike complicated mobile payments offerings (sorry, Isis), it’s pretty easy to grasp what Coin is doing. And even better for Coin, this is something that every consumer has likely thought about: Who wouldn’t want to slim down all of the cards they’re carrying? And isn’t there a better solution for fishing for one of those tiny loyalty cards in your wallet or purse?
It’s also worth noting that most consumers won’t have to change their habits much when using Coin, something that’s also holding mobile payments back. Even Square and PayPal, which don’t rely on near-field communications, require you to rethink how you interact with cashiers when checking out.
While Coin looks high-tech and distinctive right now, founder and chief executive Kanishk Parashar tells me it will eventually look more like traditional cards. That’s mainly to avoid cashiers questioning the Coin card (to the uninformed, it looks like something from a hacker’s toolkit).
Coin reminds me of the Card 2.0 from Dynamics, a company which offers similar technology for holding multiple cards in a single card. But while Dynamics has gone on to form partnerships with big payments companies, Coin is directly targeting consumers.
Coin is based in San Francisco and has raised funds from Y Combinator and K9 Ventures. The company plans to announce a new funding round soon.