COIN is a smart plastic card with a promise of reducing the size of your wallet by putting all your credit cards and gift cards in one card.  After almost two years of waiting, I received my COIN two weeks ago!

Design

The card looks very slick and nice. It has a size and thickness of a regular credit card which is pretty impressive given the card has a battery and e-ink display in it. Battery is not rechargeable or replaceable but it will last for two years. After two years, you need to replace the card. Using the card is pretty simple, you can load up to 8 of your cards into COIN and use any of them by pushing the button on the card. When you push the button, the card name, last four digits, and expiration info shows up on the e-ink display. The button is not finger touch which is a good thing. You have push the button a little firm and feel a click. This is to ensure that a card is selected unintentionally by accidentally touching the button. To go through cards you keep pushing the button and your card information show up.

 

 

COIN comes with a card swiper to load your credit cards and gifts cards. The swiper attaches to headphone jack of the phone like Square swipers and you can load your cards through COIN’s mobile app. The app design is clean and it’s fairly easy to use. The app implements a new form of password creation which is like Morse code. You have to use this password to unlock the app or unlock the card in case your phone is unavailable. This unique way of generating passwords is bit problematic. Most users like me are used to character-based passwords. COIN password is not a word that you can remember, it’s 6 long and short taps. So it is very easy to forget especially if you don’t enter it often. Loading your cards to COIN is also simple, run the app, connect the swiper, swipe your credit card, and the card information show up in the app, add the card to your COIN by syncing your COIN card. You can also take a picture of your card or enter the card info manually. For me, the process worked smoothly for loading my credit cards. However, I ran into issues when I tried to load a gift card. For example, I swiped a Zara gift card but the card number showing in the app was different from the number on the card. At the end, the gift wasn’t loaded correctly to my COIN which I found out when I wanted to use in the store.

COIN App Add CardCOIN App Cards

Application

COIN is meant to be a transitional tool. It is supposed to fill the gap until mobile payments become promenant. In the next couple of years, mobile payments like Apple Pay will take over and make the plastic cards obsolete. Until then, you can use COIN to relpace your cards and reduce the size of your wallet. Well, this promise almost works! In a two-week testing, COIN worked on almost 90% of POS systems not 100% of them! Not working on all POS systems likley defeats the purpose since I have to have my actual cards with I in case COIN doesn’t work. For example, COIN doesn’t work with some iPad card readers, ATM machines, or any card reader takes in the whole card in order to read like payment system in most parking structures. So far, I haven’t trusted to COIN to leave my cards at home and I have to carry one additional card! Another issue is unfamiliarity of sellers with COIN. They get a little confused since COIN’s look is very different than a regular card! Most sellers have never seen a COIN before.

 

Not very often but sometimes seller are hesitant to use it. This can turn to a embarrassment sometime. I loaded my Zara gift card into COIN. Not only loading the card was problematic, but the whole experience of using COIN in the store was painful and unsuccessful! When I handed the card to the seller, he didn’t recognize the card. He thought it’s an actual gift card issued by Zara. I corrected him and explained how COIN works. He tried to understand it but the whole idea was a little foreign to him. We tried swiping, entering the number, etc but no luck! The card number wasn’t recognized by the system. Seller called his manager and they couldn’t figure out how take this card as a gift card. I didn’t have the actual gift card with me so I couldn’t use my gift card. Overall COIN is a great idea and I tend use it as much as I can; however, it didn’t help me reducing my wallet size. I still have to carry all my card just in case COIN doesn’t work. COIN still has some work do to make sure its card work with all the POS systems and gift card from different merchants which to me is the real value. If you want to buy it you can pre-order it on COIN site.