Gadgets & Gear

Coin: An all-in-one credit card

I love the idea of Coin, a device that is aimed at replacing all the credit cards in your wallet with one very cool smart credit card.

It has the strip that you swipe on the back and  looks like any other credit card, except instead of colorful logos, it’s sleek and black and has a little display screen in a corner. Coin, though, is really a connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. Coin works with your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. Instead of carrying several cards you carry one Coin. Multiple accounts and information all in one place.

coin1How do you get all your other cards loaded into the Coin device? By an app that allows you to add, manage and sync the cards that you choose to store on your Coin. The process of adding card information to the mobile app is done by taking a picture or two and swiping your Coin through a small device they provide, like those little dongles that many retailers are using to swipe credit cards into smartphones.

The screen on Coin lets you select which card you want to use for which purchase and a Bluetooth low energy chip that syncs with your mobile phone and even alerts you if you walk out of a place and leave your card behind.

It will hold up to eight cards at one time.

The company says it will work and be accepted by all businesses, just as your current cards are.coin2

As to security, they will build in solid encryption. And to prevent someone from using all the credit accounts stored on Coin when you gibe it to a waitperson or clerk to process, it has an auto-lock feature to allow a Coin to remain swipeable once you have selected a card, but to prevent someone else from either accidentally or intentionally changing the card that is selected. If enabled, as soon as your Coin leaves your phone’s side, the feature will automatically trigger. Once your Coin and your phone are nearby one and other again, the button on the device will be re-enabled so that you can select a card.

If it’s lost or stolen, there is an auto-deactivate function. If your Coin is out of contact with your phone for a period of time that you configure in the Coin mobile app, it will automatically deactivate itself.

Pretty cool idea, right?

Ah but here’s the rub. It will sell for $100. If you pre order right now, you can get one for $55. But it won’t ship until summer. $100 is unreasonable, it seems to me; $55  still seems expensive.

Something else, once the battery wears out, you need another card. Their website doesn’t say how long that battery will last. Or whether you have to pay full cost for a replacement.

I have gone ahead and pre-ordered one, even though it’s almost six months away from shipping.

It’s just such a great idea I couldn’t resist, though I admit to having some serious misgivings about paying for something so far in advance.

Below is the official corporate video on how it works. Judging my the nearly 8 million people who have watched this, I’d say there’s quite an interest in it.

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.