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One card to rule them all

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Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! This week I wanted to share some information on a nifty little gadget that I purchased last week .. but won’t get my hands on until this summer. The Coin, all-in-one credit card gizmo.

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Sure, you think, one more techy method to make payments that doesn’t work in half the stores that I try and frequent, and will break or fall apart within a few uses. Well, since I don’t have mine in hand yet, I can’t dispel all of those fears, but here is what I do know ...

At a glance Coin looks like many of your other credit cards, it’s familiar, and it actually works like a credit card, by swiping through machines. What sets it apart is that it can house all of your credit, debit and reward cards in one single-card-sized device and pairs with your smartphone to manage and organize all the cards.

So how does it work? It’s actually pretty straightforward. You swipe each of your cards, using the swiping apparatus provided, and it will log the card numbers. You then take a picture of the card so you can identify which card you are using, and then you use the Coin to select which card is active and to make your payments. The Coin will work in all standard credit card readers, ATMs and will also store the 3 digit security code for reference too. Coin uses Bluetooth, low energy, technology to communicate with your phone, and also uses it to alert you if you leave your Coin outside a certain radius.

While you can store an unlimited number of cards using the partner app, you have a limit of eight active cards that can be accessed through the Coin- that’s where the app manager comes in handy. Another catch with the app is that it can only pair the Coin with one device. It’s actually a pretty smart, IMHO, because that means there is less chance that your device will be stolen and your information taken.

The Coin is designed to last about two years on the internally sealed battery with moderate use. According to the Coin websites, moderate use is around 10-20 activities that involve the device. Of course, if you use it less and sync it less often, it should last longer. It is unfortunate that the battery is only expected to last a certain time, and that it’s not replaceable, but in the grand scheme of things two years is a pretty decent amount of time.

In my case, I have four cards that I typically use, between credit, debit and membership things, and I certainly don’t use them 10-20 times per day. So I am expecting that my Coin should easily last the two years. If you want to look at it in another light the battery life of this device lasts longer than the average replacement cycle of a smartphone.

So it sounds like a neat idea, but now you want to ask me how this fits into the march of technology. It’s hard to imagine that in the growing world of NFC and Beaming that adding a piece of hardware that is essentially the same design as something we’ve used for years is a step forward. In fact, at a glance you may even ask if it’s a step back — reverting to something tried and true when we have options like NFC and so forth.

I really tend to disagree. I actually think this is a perfect “right now” solution. Let’s look at the other options. Google Wallet, NFC, and other RFID or proximity payment solutions rely on both the device and the payment acceptor to have the corresponding tech. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been adopted by the masses yet. Apple doesn’t include NFC, excluding a large demographic, and the cost of adapting a store to accept terminal payments via this technology can be expensive and a risk if there is a chance that the technology will not last. Imagine how Beta Max consumers felt ... On the other hand, you have a process that everyone knows — nearly every person knows how to use a swiping credit card, and virtually every business is set up to accept credit cards via a swipe. With the advent of mobile credit card payment acceptance systems like Square, PayPal readers and Intuit, even the Direct Sales genre and small businesses now have the option to take payments. The Coin will fit in nicely with this existing, and growing, market. It is familiar and because it can reduce the amount of things that we carry with us, it is more than just a status gadget.

I had a brief conversation with someone else via Facebook, who had also ordered one, about how this would fit the existing consumer base. He is a business owner and another business owner I know chimed in as well. The thing we are all most curious to see is what level of adaptation we can expect to see with something like this. The initial thought, of course, is that it will be relegated to the geeks and tech enthusiasts. However, I really do see the potential that it will appeal to many demographics. As a guy who keeps my wallet in my back pocket, my back is already thanking me. For the ladies, how great would it be to just take the one card when you go out and not have to worry about carrying around a purse-full of plastic? And for anyone who has a penchant for losing things ... how great to have everything in one place and it will notify you if you leave it somewhere?

The Coin boasts 128 and 256 bit encryption across all facets of their platform, so consumers can rest easy that their information is pretty secure. Like the alert when you forget it, the Coin also comes equipped with a setting that can deactivate the card after it’s out of range of your smartphone for a certain amount of time. So, if you are taking a taxi, forget your Coin on the seat, it will deactivate at a time interval that you set so the next person to hop in the cab can’t take your Coin and recklessly charge to your accounts.

The Coin is not shipping yet, they expect to start shipping by early summer 2014, and they just sent out a notice that they are looking for beta testers in the San Francisco market. If you are interested in learning more, visit their website, www.onlycoin.com and if you want to purchase one you can do that there, or you can also follow this link directly too: https://onlycoin.com/?referral=evwBLGZF.

Expect a detailed review as soon as I get mine and have a chance to put it to use. I’m thinking that my friends’ businesses will be first stops on my list so they can see it in action. There are some great tech items that are coming down the pipe, and this is one that I think will be well received.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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