Y Combinator-backed startup Coin is taking a new approach to mobile payments. Where others like Isis and Google Wallet are hell-bent on transforming your smartphone into a digital wallet, Coin is content to leave your phone alone and instead focus on what you already use to pay for things: a plastic card.
Coin is just that, a universal card that replaces all of your existing credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. The idea is that you can use Coin to carry around all of these cards without the hassle of physically having them all on you at once.
Using the coin mobile app, you can swipe existing cards through a small dongle (provided) or simply snap a photo or two of it. After that, you can send the information to Coin or store it in the mobile app. Users can store an unlimited number of cards in the mobile app although only eight cards can be loaded onto Coin at any given time.
The physical card is the same size and shape of a traditional credit or debit card. There’s a display on the front and a button that is used to cycle through installed cards. Simply select the card you want during checkout and swipe it as you would any other card. Your smartphone can even send you a push notification if it detects the card is no longer with you which could be helpful if you left it behind somewhere.
Coin is available for pre-order as of writing for $50 plus shipping which is half off the normal price. Coin is initially only being offered in two color options – white or black – although CEO Kanishk Parashar said they are working on other designs that look and feel more like traditional cards. It’s not expected to ship until the summer of 2014, however.