Coin aims to replace analog credit cards with a single iPhone-connected accessory

in General Discussion edited January 2014
A Silicon Valley startup aims to help you rid your wallet of excess plastic with a new Bluetooth-enabled "connected card," called Coin, that can be reprogrammed on the fly and swiped at point of sale terminals like a traditional credit card.


Coin packs a lithium battery, Bluetooth low energy radio, e-ink display, and a dynamically reprogrammable magnetic strip -- for which the company says it has a patent pending --?into a small, credit card-sized device. It can masquerade as virtually any swipe-able card that uses a magnetic strip, from credit and debit cards to those used for loyalty and rewards programs.

Coin is the brainchild of mobile developer Kanishk Parashar, and the team of seven employees has been developing the idea for over a year. Rather than attempting to reinvent payments yet again by using exotic but underdeployed technologies like NFC, Parashar told AppleInsider that the company chose the swipe-able approach because of its ubiquity: nearly every credit card-enabled business in the world is Coin-enabled by default.

Users can store up to eight cards at once in the Coin's onboard memory and switch between them by pressing a small button. The selected card is displayed on a small, embedded e-ink screen, and cards can be swapped in and out at any time using a companion smartphone application and dongle which connects to the Coin via a Bluetooth low energy link.

That Bluetooth link also helps keep the Coin secure. When the Coin is out of range, the user's smartphone will send up an alert and, if the two devices are not reunited within a configurable period of time, the Coin will automatically lock itself to prevent abuse.

The company says the Coin will run for up to two years on its built-in battery with no need to recharge. Though a process has not yet been set, Parashar says that an upgrade path to a new Coin will be provided when its battery does eventually falter.

For those who enjoy a more active lifestyle, the Coin is designed to be resistant to water intrusion and a nominal amount of flexing and bending. Most magnets and money clips will likewise leave the device unscathed, though the company does caution those who work around abnormally large magnets --?like MRI machines --?to be cautious.

San Francisco-based Coin is a graduate of mega startup incubator Y Combinator, and have begun a crowd funding program with the goal of raising an additional $50,000 for its initial production run. The device will launch in the summer of 2014 at a retail price of $100, but early backers will have an opportunity to secure a Coin from the inaugural batch for just $50.


  • Reply 1 of 44
    moxommoxom Posts: 325member
    Hmm.. interesting concept.

    Thankfully I only have a debit card to worry about... :)
  • Reply 2 of 44
    Love it!!
  • Reply 3 of 44
    Great concept but why do I get this feeling that evil people will store 8 different people's cards on one card and just go place to place swiping away. Saying that, I still want one!
  • Reply 4 of 44
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,477member

    Sounds fantastic... $50/$100 is a lot though for something after dies in 2 years. "Coin" wouldn't be my first choice of name because it has nothing to do with a coin, something like MetaCard would have been better. I love the dude in the video.

  • Reply 5 of 44

    Awesome. I was thinking all in one card concept but this is probably a more feasible option.

  • Reply 6 of 44
    irelandireland Posts: 17,122member
    Why not an app to replace all your cards?

    Saw it a while ago. Transmits a signal when your iPhone is placed near the credit card machine. Can't remember what it's called.
  • Reply 7 of 44
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    The merchant needs to be educated to accept it. "Sorry sir, we only accept Visa and MasterCard."


    But wait it is a Visa...


    Sorry, it has to have a Visa logo or we can't accept it.


    Otherwise I really like it. I have way too many cards. I have to leave many of them at home, mostly rewards cards. I just counted right now and I am carrying 9 cards. AMEX personal, AMEX business, MasterCard, Visa, debit, AAA, Medical insurance, Golf membership, and grocery rewards, plus a couple other things like driver's license, etc. I think I'll get one of these Coin cards and give it a try.

  • Reply 8 of 44

    always find it amazing that the usa is still stuck in the past with swipe and signature, it's hideously insecure, fraud is trivial


    this product seems to do away with even the pitiful security offered by a signature check, if it's accepted by retailers the thieves will absolutely love it


    chip and pin dramatically reduces fraud levels, if a shop/whatever in europe expects me to just swipe, or, even worse, gets out the embossing machine, i instantly think 'scam' and consider going somewhere else or using cash

  • Reply 9 of 44
    Passbook will make this obsolete by next summer...
  • Reply 10 of 44
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member

    Interesting transitional idea. Not where the "puck is heading," but the puck may be moving slowly enough to give this idea a market. Of course I'd want the right price and a nice track record first... I wouldn't choose to be an early adopter.



    Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

    Great concept but why do I get this feeling that evil people will store 8 different people's cards on one card and just go place to place swiping away. Saying that, I still want one!


    They already do that, they just need a thicker wallet for the purpose!

  • Reply 11 of 44
    I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that tapping is all you need to do to change the card. Suppose you hand it to a waiter who while handling it, inadvertently hits that button and the card changes. That could turn out to be a hit to someone's debit card when they meant to use a credit card. Not always a good thing.

    Ideally, a fingerprint reader would be included on that button (similar to iphone 5s). A less expensive security measure is obviously more desirable and seems like that would be a technical requirement. Perhaps a software based option which allows you to lock the current card.
  • Reply 12 of 44
    normmnormm Posts: 513member
    The first few problems that come to mind:

    o Doesn't look legit -- who's going to be willing to accept it?
    o You can use it to easily copy anyone's card you hold for a moment.
    o Easy to accidentally change card (push button) while the vendor has it.
    o No signature strip -- some people care about that.
    o Expensive to replace if you lose it.
    o Eventually the battery dies and you have no cards.
    o Most countries use smart cards now.
  • Reply 13 of 44
    Really an interesting stop-gap measure. Of course your phone should replace your card, and will.

    It would be made more useful if you could get your health insurance card, gym membership, Costco card and so on included. All of those for me do not have a magnetic swipe.

    Still, kind of cool tech.
  • Reply 14 of 44

    Was ready to sign up until I read all the comments.

    Valid points as to vender education/ button activate - can you lock COIN CARD when PAYMENT card is selected?

    Apple - wish they'd jump on this only because I know it would be done right the 1st time & fixes are always prompt.

  • Reply 15 of 44
    A shame this has nothing to do with Bitcoin.
  • Reply 16 of 44
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,546member

    One word: chip


    I haven't swiped since forever

  • Reply 17 of 44
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member

    For member cards I use the Key Ring app - stores lots and lots of cards - the bar code scans most places and for others I bring up the large number view - I do silt carry a very often used card since that one doesn't scan well and I use it at self-service stations. 


    I think I did see a signature strip on the back. 


    Perhaps the change cards requires holding the button down for a few seconds before it goes into change mode. 


    COIN = Card One I'm Done ????


    Coin is a a clever name since the term coin has been used a generic reference to an unspecified amount amount of money. 


    $50 - $100 is more than I would pay. 


    I am working towards fewer cards - the problem of course is so many cards with rewards programs tied to using the card - so I end up either with too many in my wallet - or swapping them out each time I am planning a trip - which leaves unplanned stops at risk of not having the proper card. 


    As to why is the US so far "behind" the rest of the world - I have seen this come up a number of times - and aside from political and regulatory reasons - many industries - such as telecom - spent decades building an infrastructure in this country well before other countries even started - meaning we reached a critical mass of installed product that needs to be serviced and maintained etc - where in some other country they started building infrastructure at a time when using things like Fibre or Cellular did NOT require displacing millions upon millions of installed devices and connections spread across several million square miles. 


    It is far too simplistic to suggest that because some technology is prevalent in one area of the world that every single other area should have no issue swapping out everything they have for that new technology. On the other hand, too often, the prevalence of the old technology becomes a barrier to adoption of the new. Or arguments about how long it will take to make the transition stops us form taking the first step. I'm looking at you wind and solar. 

  • Reply 18 of 44
    Really love this idea of bringing a physical card to the payment market. Reminds me of an article I read about a team doing something similar on TechCrunch:
  • Reply 19 of 44
    rhyderhyde Posts: 294member
    What's in your wallet?
  • Reply 20 of 44
    Canada has NFC everywhere, and anything that doesn't have NFC has chip-n-pin. Swiping is generally not allowed any more.

    Everywhere else is the same, outside the US.

    So basically this thing is useless to anyone but a small group in the US, which will almost certainly disappear shortly.
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