Coin wants to replace all your cards

November 25, 2013


Just like Square want to change the way people accept credit card, Coin wants to reinvent the way people pay. This San Francisco startup Coin makes an electronic credit card that can store multiple debit/credit cards in one place.

Coin picture

In order to use Coin, you need to store your card information on it through an iOS/Android app and a dongle shipped with Coin. After that, you can toggle between different cards by pressing a button on the card. When you want to pay with your card, you just simply swipe Coin like a normal credit card. Sound great, isn't it! People who carry different cards in their pockets on a daily basis would appreciate this new gadget.

Although it is a promising idea, there are a few concerns that may prevent a lot of people using Coin. First one is security. How can we prevent others intentionally change your card especially when you hand your card to the waiter in a restaurant? How safe is Coin server? As more people get to use Coin card, I would assume that Coin has to show that they own the same level of security infrastructure as banks do.

Another issue related to security is that when use Coin, we basically put all the eggs in one bucket. If we lose our Coin card, we may expose all our cards information to someone else. But before if we lose a card, we just need to report loss to that specific card company.

Some of those questions are answered in their FAQ page. You can check it out, but I feel they are not very clear. So I still would like to raise those concerns here.

Second thing will be the built quality and app usability. Good concept have to be translated to good design and manufacturing. In this case, Coin will be repeatedly used in our everyday life. How tough is this card? Can it withstand sudden drop, bend, heat, and water et al? And most importantly, will it always work? Unlike a plastic card with magnetic strip, this thing has electronic circuit inside, which is more likely to have some glitches from time to time. How well does Coin hold on to this would determine the user experience of Coin, and ultimately whether people would buy it or not.

That being said, Coin is an innovative piece of technology that may release people from carrying a lot of cards, and I am really looking forward to its launching next year.