Want to slim down your wallet this year? It could happen. All thanks to this elegant bit of whiz bang technology: Coin. This sleek little electronic device is roughly the size of a credit card. But it can hold up to eight cards all at once. Your credit cards, ATM cards, debit cards, etc. can cohabit inside this amazingly thin piece of plastic. Simply scan your credit card numbers into the gizmo and go. When you need to pay for something, you just scroll to the desired card number and swipe.
Coin is currently accepting pre-orders at a discounted price of fifty bucks, plus five dollars for shipping. The retail price is $100. So you pay your money and you take your chances. The actual card will not be functional until this summer––right in time for swimsuit season.
Coin sources report that the pre-order response has been spectacular. But what would you expect them to say? The question is this: is the new gadget a stud or a dud? Here are our thoughts.
1. It’s new and shiny, but.
Think about the practical implications. Once I scan in my credit cards, debit cards, rewards cards and bankcards, where do I put them? After all, I have always kept these bad boys in my wallet. I’m not going to toss them out, am I? Maybe I’ll buy another wallet to keep them in. But where do I keep that wallet?
2. Coin can’t work if your smartphone is dead
This is one of the security features of the Coin device. It locks the bad guys out if you leave the gizmo behind at the restaurant or store. It even sends you a smartphone alert the moment your Coin card and phone get separated. While this is cool, it also means that if your phone battery dies, your Coin card dies.
3. There is already similar technology
Google Wallet already is an app that allows you to leave your wallet behind and use your smartphone to pay for things. Since I can’t let my phone out of Coin’s sight anyway, why the added apparatus?
4. Uncertain credit card company buy-in
Although Coin has had conversations with credit card companies, they have yet to reveal if they have any actual takers. These things are tricky. Even Google received a slap on the wrist when it expanded its mobile wallet program. They had reported all major credit cards had signed on, but American Express fired back a statement that they were not yet onboard.
5. Risk of fraud
Unless the major credit card companies are willing to honor this arrangement, why risk the fifty dollars? After all, this card may be ripe for fraudulent activity. Is this worth the risk for the consumer, the retail outlet or the bank?
The Coin device has been beta-tested in San Francisco and they report no merchant fallout. But that doesn’t mean that the dude behind the cash register at the Des Moines Kwik-E-Mart is going to be that open to this alien technology. Just a thought.
7. Product expiration
The Coin device, according to the fine print on their own website, has only a two-year life span. The battery cannot be recharged. So two years from now, you’ll be forking out another hundred dollars for a new card. My Visa Card lasts me four years and they send me a new one automatically.
Sure, the bulge in my back pocket would benefit from this new, slender technological wonder. And $50 is in most folks price range. But, at the end of the day, I think I can live without it. After all, I have for decades.