“This is designed for the lifestyle of today with the technology of tomorrow,” says Kanishk Parashar, founder of Coin, the startup represented by a small black credit card with a digital screen on it that Parashar holds in his hand.
Sick of overstuffed wallets, Parashar has taken it upon himself to revolutionize how we pay with Coin, a smart credit card which stores all your existing card information, then communicates with your smartphone to use the Coin to pay with one of those cards. The Y Combinator-backed startup carries the data of any swipe-able cards – think loyalty cards, debit cards, work expense cards – on your iPhone, letting you use Coin to pay with any one of those.
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“You don’t need eight cards every day, so your phone is kind of like your drawer, and your Coin is kind of like your wallet,” explains Parashar, founder and CEO of Coin.
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Upon purchasing a Coin, users receive a coin card and card-swipe dongle that connects to a smartphone or tablet. Users then take photos of their cards, swipe them through the dongle and upload them to the Coin mobile app, which stores the info onto your Coin card. When you want to pay, you browse through stored cards on your Coin, select one, and swipe it anywhere credit, debit or gift cards are accepted.
Coin’s also hoping to put an end to forgotten credit cards at the end of bar tabs – if you leave your Coin behind, the Coin app on your phone will remind you. If lost, Parashar says, Coin disables itself, keeping your credit card information secure.
Parashar, who worked at PayPal before building top-rated mobile apps and developing Flickr part time for a year, created SmartMarket in 2010, a mobile payments company based on peer-to-peer payments through photos. Though it received thousands of downloads, nobody was using it to pay for stuff.
“What we really needed was a single solution that let people interact with what exists and fits with your lifestyle,” Parashar explained. Coin, which simplifies several cards into one, attempts to do just that.
The San Francisco-based startup has so-far raised $50,000 in crowdfunding. Coins are made entirely in the U.S., and are now accepting pre-orders to begin production – Parashar says Coin will be commercially available in the summer of 2014 for around $100.
It’s a very cool idea, but with high production prices – the prototype I saw cost about $1,000 to make – it’s unclear how widely used it will be outside of gadget-savvy professionals. And with mobile payments becoming an increasingly crowded space, it’s unclear whether payments will soon move past credit cards and make Coin redundant.
“This is a mobile device, but the key difference is, it works now everywhere,” Parashar defends. “But the Bluetooth, and the fact that there’s a screen that interacts wirelessly takes you to the next step, because the whole mobile landscape is moving towards Bluetooth energy.”
Would you use coin? Tell me on Twitter @natrobe.
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