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OPLIN 4cast #362: Thinning your wallet

Posted in 4cast

walletAs you venture out to the stores this week – or jump online – to do your Christmas shopping, take a second to look at the number of plastic cards you have in your wallet: not just credit cards, but gift cards, customer loyalty cards, and of course your library card(s). Various tech businesses, including Google, have tried to reduce the plastic clutter in our wallets by using the smartphones most people carry everywhere, but since the plastic card is so convenient, none of these new ideas has become popular. Now a new startup, called Coin, proposes to let you store the data from many cards on one card that can be swiped through a magnetic reader just like a standard credit card. Most libraries use a barcode rather than a magnetic stripe on their patron cards, but if Coin is very successful, libraries may see some patron demand for magnetic readers in libraries so people don’t have to carry a special piece of plastic just for the library.

  • Tired of a fat wallet? Coin lets you hold all your cards in a single, connected card (VentureBeat/Devindra Hardawar)  “Simply swipe your cards using a card dongle like Square’s, take a picture of their front and back, and Coin’s app securely stores all of the card information for you. You can hold up to eight cards on the Coin card at once, which you can cycle through using a small button and display on the front of the card (an unlimited amount of additional cards can be swapped over from the Coin app). Paying is as simple as swiping like a normal credit card.”
  • Coin launches a crowdfunding campaign for a card that replaces every swipeable card in your wallet (The Next Web/Nick Summers)  “Each Coin will retail for $100, but you can reserve one for half that price if you get in early. In addition, there’s a $5 discount for every friend you refer. The first units are expected to ship in the summer of next year. In short, this is a card to replace all of your cards. Until mobile payment apps are truly commonplace across the world, Coin seems like the best alternative.”
  • Why was the launch of Coin so successful? (Forbes/Brian Roemmele)  “Coin set its sights on $50,000 to fund the development and production of the proof of concept wallet-like product. This goal was met in 47 minutes on the afternoon of November 14th, 2013. This represents at least 1,000 confirmed pre-orders.”
  • Coin to strengthen security of all-in-one credit card (CNET/Nick Statt)  “Many critics of Coin were quick to point out the obvious security issues with a programmable – hence, hackable – device that contains heaps of personal financial data. The company is remaining steadfast in its reliance on 128- and 256-bit encryption that spans its servers, its mobile app, and the device itself. But it’s now addressing the fraud concern by building in an alarm that keeps track of how many times the card is swiped.”

Unofficial fact:
If the collection of library cards we keep in the OPLIN office is any indication, only about 3% of Ohio public libraries issue patron cards that have magnetic stripes.