Posted by David Hamrick on

I’ve read several news stories about Coin, a card that aims to replace all of the magnetic swipe cards in your wallet and wondered whether it solves a problem that is worth solving?

I carry around a lot of stuff in my wallet. I have 3 credit cards, a debit card, driver’s license, health insurance card, car insurance card, a few business cards, and of course cash. Coin could replace all of my credit and debit cards, but I would still need to carry around all of my other items in a wallet. Is the goal of coin to replace my wallet or make it a little less thick?

I don’t use each of my cards on a daily basis. If I really wanted to slim down my wallet for a specific occasion—going to a bar perhaps—I could just bring my ID and one credit card. There isn’t an instance where I need to bring all of my credit cards to a specific place.

There may be some people who want to have access to many cards, and not have a hemorrhaging wallet. I hope that none of these people live outside of the United States, since the Coin won’t work there. Coin uses a programable magnetic stripe that can change on the fly, which should work fine in the United States. In Europe and other places around the world, credit cards use an embedded EMV chip that requires users to enter a pin number when their card is used. Coin doesn’t have this chip, so people won’t be able to use it where an EMV card is required.

The security aspects of Coin are interesting. If you leave your Coin at a restaurant table, the Coin smartphone app will send you a push notification once you have walked a certain distance away from it. You can also lock the card so that you need to enter a pin before using it.

Do people need to carry around so many cards that they are willing to pay $100 for a consolidated card? Will the security features lure people in? I personally don’t think that the problem is large enough, or the solution is good enough to make this product enter the mainstream.


David Hamrick is a partner at Hamrick Software, the makers of VueScan, the worlds most popular 3rd party scanner software.