Imagine trying to reinvent mobile payments. After brainstorming all kinds of innovative new ways to use modern tech and methods you realize how difficult adoption is going to be.
You have merchants, banks and customers who all have embraced certain methods, technologies and habits that they’re comfortable with. Your solution would have to be so amazingly simple, that it eliminates friction for at least one of the groups involved, and doesn’t add any friction for the others. Your solution would need to fit so comfortably in the established conventions that adoption is a no-brainer.
Coin is a new smart card that reaches that balance well by attempting to simplify all those cards we carry. And it’s based on a decidedly low tech framework, the good ol’ fashioned magnetic strip.
Coin replaces most of the cards we carry around everyday (credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, & membership cards), storing them all in a single card. Users toggle between cards by pinching a button (pinching avoids accidentally hitting the button when sat on or when used by a waiter). A small screen displays letters to denote which card is active, as well as the last digits and expiration date of the credit card.
Developed by Kanishk Parashar, he’s been iterating on his concept for a while. He says he’s lost track of the number of prototypes he’s built, but each iteration has focused on bringing the size down while lowering battery consumption. The battery of the current prototype is expected to last about a year with regular usage.
Users add new cards to Coin by swiping them on a card reader and manage them with a mobile app. Using Bluetooth low energy, Coin will deactivate itself and send a notification letting users know they left their Coin behind when the connection between it and the phone is broken. It’s a security protocol, but it also means the card won’t work without a paired phone. Coin also uses 256-bit encryption and follows the same compliance as other online wallets, Parashar said. “We have some secret projects in place to wow consumers, but we want to make sure we can achieve them first,” he added, referring to possible security features.
Coin began taking pre-orders Thursday, aiming to raise $50,000 to cover manufacturing costs. I don’t think their going to have a problem raising the funds. Early backers can preorder the device for $50, though the card is expected to retail for $100. Parashar expects manufacturing to start in the middle of the first quarter, and he expects to begin shipping Coin in the summer.