Written by Simran Shah
Technological change in this generation has begun to touch the world of financial transactions. There has been an increasing trend towards innovative methods of payment, which has opened opportunities for start-ups.
New payment techniques have emerged from tech startups like Coin and Plastc. Both companies have revolutionized the industry with the introduction of a single card that holds all your other ones. The simple design and ease of use offer a groundbreaking solution to the problem of numerous cards.
According to the founder of Coin, Kanishk Parashar, customers pre-ordered approximately 350 thousand units of Coin in less than two months and the company is currently facing a backlog, with 100 thousand Coin cards yet-to-be shipped. This number is almost triple the number of iPods sold in the period.
Marcus Wohlsen wrote in his article for Wired that each customer chipped in to a crowd-funded venture at the early adopter half-price rate of $50, allowing the company to meet its pre-order goal of $50 thousand within 40 minutes of its launch video hitting the internet.
The Coin card itself has one button and a small screen to display the card type, the last four digits of the card number and the expiration date. This simple interface makes the card easy to navigate and use. Allowing you to upload eight cards at a time, the Coin can keep track of everything from credit cards to Starbucks gift cards and even your NYU ID. Unfortunately, it is not yet compatible with Metro Cards. Long(ish)-lasting, the Coin card has a projected two-year battery life.
Still, some critics are skeptical of its value. According to Jason Cipriani, a journalist for Fortune, “Paying with Coin is similar to using a standard credit or debit card, save for the typical two- minute conversation with the clerk about the confused payment system.” He also doesn’t see the point in having a card that you need to replace in 2 years.
The use of a phone is not necessary to use this sleek device as it works independently through a passcode when you press the button on the card itself. However, if your phone battery is dead, you cannot use your coin card. The card works based on distance recognition and your phone will notify you to get your Coin card when you move a certain distance away from it. This warning prevents cards from being lost or stolen almost immediately since the Coin app tracks the physical card.
Zander Futernick (Stern ’19) has his own insight regarding Coin. He agrees that the idea is “fantastic” but thinks the execution is not as he had hoped. He sometimes has trouble explaining how to use it and other times it just does not swipe at all. Nonetheless, he approves of Coin as a “temporary sector in between the time of traditional credit cards and e-payment options, like Apple Pay.” Until this transition is complete, products like Coin present a transient solution.
As noted, there are a lot of complications with the functioning of the Coin product. According to Casey Newton, a journalist at The Verge, the company stated that Coin worked in 85% of US locations in 2014. The following year, it released the identical news, making the company seem unreliable and suspect.
Overall, Coin caters to a niche market of luxurious spenders who would pay to get rid of their multiple cards. Yann Ranchere, a director at Anthemis Group a Geneva-based financial services consultancy firm said, “Coin is so similar to what has come before, it’s unlikely to make a dent in the market.”
However, it is a creative idea that can be successful in a market that accepted it more widely. Once it becomes more common, it may be possible to use coin even in B2B transactions. This change will take time to be acknowledged and integrated into our social habits. Once accepted, it can be successful.