If you've been trying to slim down your bulky wallet, a new product launching today may be the device of your dreams. Despite its name, Coin is a connected credit/debit card that could replace all the plastic in your wallet. Expected to ship in Summer 2014, the device will retail for $100, but you can get it at a pre-order price of $50 starting today via Coin's website.
Coin will take on the identity of all your swipe-able cards such as credit, gift, loyalty and membership cards. A card-swipe dongle ships with the device so you can connect it to your phone to upload your cards onto the companion app. That information is then stored on Coin.
From there, you tap a button on Coin to toggle through a digital display of the cards stored and select the one you want to use. The device will then take on the information and identity of the card you've selected and can be swiped for use anywhere cards are accepted. Storage and communication with the app are protected by 128-bit encryption.
If the idea of ever losing your Coin sounds horrifying (as it should), here's some good news. Coin detects when your phone is near via a low-power Bluetooth signal and notifies you when you're a certain distance away from it. You won't need to be near your Coin for it to work, but you will need your phone and the dongle to add, manage or delete existing cards.
The device will also disable itself "if it's lost." When you get beyond a certain distance away, your Coin will lock itself up so that no one else can use it. To prevent the device from being used to upload cards that don't belong to the original cardholder, you have to enter your personal information when setting up the app and device. Subsequent cards uploaded must match the same personal information to be stored in the app. Each Coin has a battery that will last for two years and will not demagnetize if left near other cards or magnets, and like other cards it is shock and water-resistant.
Still, we are concerned about the concept of getting merchants to accept a generic credit card without questioning if the cardholder is the original owner of the card.