There have been attempts to unify all of your payment methods in the past using Near Field Communication technology (NFC). However, NFC really hasn’t caught on like some had expected. Coin is trying to bring to market a truly universal product that will unify all of your credit cards, gift cards, and loyalty cards into one swipeable card.
The problem with NFC technology is that it requires the merchant to have special hardware on-hand in order to accept an NFC payment from your mobile phone using Google Wallet. The folks at Coin saw this problem and decided to design a credit card that can hold up to 8 of your credit cards, loyalty cards or gift cards. These cards are selectable on the Coin card using an LCD screen and button on the card. Then, this card can be swiped through any existing credit card machine with no special hardware or knowledge required. This makes the Coin something that can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. It’s a no-brainer for me and a simple way to really pare down the thickness of my wallet.
Your Coin card will come with a swiping accessory for your phone that will allow you to swipe your credit card information into your phone. Then you take a picture of the front and back of your cards. Once your credit cards are in the Coin app on your phone, you can sync the cards you want on your Coin with your Coin card. I suspect that the Coin app will have pretty decent security so that if your phone is stolen all of your credit cards aren’t stolen as well. The app can hold an infinite number of gift cards, credit cards, and loyalty cards. The Coin card itself will only be able to hold 8 cards at a time.
There are some downsides to the Coin, however. Firstly, an LCD readout and the electronics that send the signal to the magnetic strip require a power source. This power source will be a non-rechargeable battery that is said to last two years. Once the two year lifespan is up, you will have to purchase a new Coin. So, essentially at full price, the cost of combining all of your credit cards into one Coin will be $50 per year. The other worry is that if someone steals this one card, they have access to all of your credit cards. However, my feeling on this is that if my wallet is stolen, the offender would have access to all those cards anyway.
The Coin is available for preorder for $50 plus $5 shipping, which is 50% off the eventual full price of $100. The Coin will be shipping in the summer of 2014 barring any major setbacks. After your preorder, you will be given a referral link that you can share with friends. If your friend preorders the Coin using your link, you’ll get $5 off.