Apple Pay and Google Wallet are not the only ways to cosolidate the large number of credit and debit cards in your wallet. Both Coin and Plastc have become hot topics in the last few years. Ironically, they are very similar in nature. We decided to take a deeper look at both to determine the pros and cons of each.
In November of 2013, Coin made a huge splash in the technology and payments space by offering a way to consolidate all of your cards (credit, debit, rewards, memberships) into one connected card. The idea took off, and they destroyed their KickStarter goals in 40 minutes. Obviously, they discovered a need that consumers were feeling—but they haven’t had the easiest time meeting the demand and living up to the expectations of the 350,000 who pre-ordered one. They planned on releasing their product summer 2014, but they are just now shipping their completed product, summer 2015 and customers haven’t been very happy about the delay.
Since, Coin has gotten past the production issues and are now shipping their product, should you order one?
Coin has some great things going for it. It was the first viable option for card consolidation and it holds 8 cards at once on the device itself and can hold unlimited cards on the app. It has a simple and elegant design and it seamlessly connects with your mobile device for adding/editing cards and a myriad of security features.
CEO Kanishk Parashar said that the Coin connects to the smartphone through a secure Bluetooth channel, which is meant to prevent the bad guys from being able to use the Coin or transmit information from it without access to the user’s smartphone.
“Coin has built a custom 128-bit encryption layer for Bluetooth that secures sensitive information and prevents man-in-the-middle attacks,” said Parashar. “We use secure Bluetooth to implement the Lock-and-Find feature, which provides a real-time validation that you, the owner of Coin, are present at the time of the transaction. If you aren’t there, Coin will lock itself. And you, the owner, can find Coin’s last known location in the mobile app.” - Tech Crunch
The major piece Coin is missing is full PCI compliance. This is a red flag. Everything we do at PayProTec is fully PCI compliant so it is hard for us to recommend a product that doesn’t meet those standards. However, Coin expects to have full compliance figured out in Q2 of 2015.
Another concern is that Coin may already be behind the market demands. Their idea was hot and took off in 2013, but in today’s world of mobile payments and the pending national change to EMV security (Coin does not offer an EVM chip option at this point), they may already be far enough behind in technology to be irrelevant.
Parashar said that the team is already working on an EMV product. He said that Coin would try to make the shift as seamless as possible for backers, but that it’s too early to know what the exact deal or trade-in process will be. “It will be something sizable enough to show our appreciation for our early adopters,”said Parashar. -TechCrunch
The struggle to catch back up has already begun. Once Coin sorts out its compliance issues and shows their plan for getting all of their current customers up to date, then, it could be a really great credit card consolidation solution. If you want to learn more about the front facing details of Coin, they have a lot of information available on their website.
Plastc is a privately funded response to Coin. It hasn’t had the same fanfare as Coin for that reason. No Kickstarter buzz has lead to less mindshare, but more control of the product release and fewer demanding consumers with high expectations. Instead, Plastic has quietly developed a leading card consolidation tool that answers some of the questions Coin left unanswered, all while improving the interface of the card itself.
Plastc offers some excellent features. Plastic offers you the ability to store 20 cards on the device at once. It also boasts a simple design with an e-ink touch screen to allow you to switch between cards and select the one you want to use. Once selected, the magnetic strip and EMV chip rewrite and the e-ink screen displays name, card type and number to literally become the card you selected.
Plastc also offers security through its connection with your mobile device. The card can also display a photo of you and a signature like what we all sign on the back of our cards now via the e-ink screen. The mobile app requires a secure PIN as well as facial authentication.
Plastc’s features, security and compliance make it stand out as the best product for card consolidation.
The major concern that we see with both Plastc and Coin is the introduction and growth of NFC payments like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Samsung Pay. The ability to simply pay with a credit card using only your cell phone is gaining a lot of steam.
Plastc’s co-founders Ryan Marquis and Mark Stubbs see this challenge a little differently, “There was no way a consumer was going to go from a physical wallet to a digital wallet without some sort of bridge technology,”says Marquis. “The fact is that we’re giving someone the technology that they’re used to using. It will work at gas pumps, ATMs and will hold up to twenty cards on it.”- Tech Crunch Interview
If you are in the market to get rid of all the cards you have in your wallet and are into modern technology, one of the two options above could be a good fit for you. For our money, we’d take Plastc and also be prepared for the future of NFC payments.