Replace All Those Cards With A ‘Coin’

A small company in San Francisco recently experienced wild success with its crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000. Coin, the Y Combinator-backed startup, was able to raise the $50,000 (and way more) in the first 40 minutes it was online. Coin aims to be the one credit card to rule them all. The device appears to be purely plastic, but it’s actually an electronic device that stores all your credit card information in one place.


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The Coin is pocket-sized. Photos from Alison Young

Coin relies on data stored on the companion app on your phone. To get the info there, you need to scan your cards with the accompanying phone/tablet dongle and take pictures of them. This doesn’t only include credit cards – you’ll be able to include loyalty cards, gift cards and membership cards. Once that is complete, Coin will work with any credit card swiper and send an alert to your phone if you happen to forget it somewhere. The battery life is expected to last about a year with regular usage.

For me, security would be the biggest concern. Keep in mind it uses 128-bit or 256-bit encryption for all storage and communication, and follows the same compliance as other online wallets. There’s a built-in alarm that keeps track of how many times you swipe the card. The device will alert your smartphone if the card has potentially been used fraudulently (even if your restaurant server attempted to switch cards on your Coin or if he/she swiped your card multiple times). When you look at your Coin’s display, you’ll see the last four digits of the card, the expiration date and the CW.

Since it uses low-energy Bluetooth to communicate with your phone, it will deactivate itself and send you that notification letting you know you left your phone behind and that the link between it and the phone was broken. This is part of the security protocol, but also means the card won’t work without your phone nearby (or also when your phone is dead). If you travel frequently, your Coin may not always work outside the U.S.

Another thing to consider about Coin is that it will work as an ATM card and even have a place for your signature on the back. The technology behind EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) standard will be integrated into your Coin, which is especially important, given the United States’ inevitable move to integrated circuit cards over the course of the next few years. Note your Coin mobile app can store an unlimited number of cards, though the device itself can only hold up to 8 cards at a time.

For a limited time, you can pre-order the Coin for $50 at After the discount period, the price will go back up to its original $100 price tag. You’ll be charged immediately so the company can use the funds for the manufacturing of your Coin, but the product won’t be released until about mid-2014.