Startups

Coin, The One Credit Card To Rule Them All, Is Finally Shipping

Comment

Image Credits:

The Coin (promising to let you combine all your credit/debit/loyalty cards into a single piece of tech) has delayed for so long that you might have forgotten that you ordered one. In November of 2013, the YC-backed company blew past its $50,000 pre-order goal in forty minutes, but despite a promise of summer 2014 shipping, the company has yet to ship a product that wasn’t in beta. Until today.

After a six-month beta program, Coin is finally ready to ship a finished product to the 350,000 people who have pre-ordered in the first two months of pre-order.

Allow Coin To Re-Introduce Itself

Coin works by letting you add all of your debit, credit, and loyalty cards onto one piece of technology, the Coin.

After signing into the Coin app with the same credentials used to order the Coin, users are asked to create a unique six-digit tap code. It uses a combination of long taps and short taps, of your choosing, to ensure no one can get into the Coin app or the Coin itself unless they know the code, or have control of the user’s smartphone.

Once the app is set up, users can pair their Coin and add new cards by manually entering information, swiping the card through an included card reader that goes into the headphone jack of the phone, or by taking a picture of the card as you would with Apple Pay.

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.”

The Coin remains locked when not in use. As soon as you’re ready to make a transaction, a single tap on the Coin’s solitary button will wake the device, do a quick search for your specific smartphone, and after a couple of seconds it will unlock. If your phone is turned off, on Airplane mode, or otherwise unavailable, you can unlock the Coin by entering the same six-digit Morse-style pin code that you will use each time you access the Coin app.

The Coin stays alive for seven minutes once it’s unlocked (so that a waiter can have the time to swipe), and then automatically locks and goes to sleep. It also remembers its last-known location and alerts the user as soon as it thinks that the smartphone has been separated from the Coin.

Users can save up to eight cards on the Coin at a single time, and they can re-sync different cards stored within the app as long as they’re within reach of their smartphone.

Delay Over?

Parashar explained to TechCrunch that Coin was surprised by the sheer volume of pre-orders placed in two months (350,000), and that manufacturing at that scale while maintaining quality ended up being a trying experience.

Coin was originally slated to ship in summer of 2014, and here we are approaching the summer of 2015. Shipping starts today, but some backers will still wait a few months before they get their product (depending on their place in line).

This hasn’t gone over well with the backer community, as Coin wasn’t as transparent as many had hoped they’d be about delays. Some even speculated that Coin was dead, but Parashar says it was simply being cautious with the product. The team went through 42 test designs (and raised $15 million in funding) during the interim, and a beta program that lasted six months across 1,000 cities. Finally, the card is shipping.

But is it too late?

Competitors like Stratos has plans to ship soon (said they would in April, but haven’t yet), and Plastc is slated to ship this summer. Plus, Apple Pay has gone live and will likely begin to permeate the mainstream along with other mobile payments solutions. Meanwhile, Coin is still working to receive its PCI (payment card industry) compliance certification, which the company says it expects to receive in Q2 of this year.

And then there’s EMV migration.

EMV

The United States is way behind when it comes to payments security, especially with regards to magnetic strip cards. While most European vendors require EMV cards (enabled with a special chip that authenticates each transaction with a unique code), the United States has been late to adopt the technology.

In October of this year, however, the United States will begin to shift over to a chip-and-pin lifestyle as opposed to the swipe-and-sign we’ve grown accustomed to. Technically speaking, liability shifts over from the merchant to the bank if EMV is enabled at POS and the bank still hasn’t issued the user an EMV card. If an EMV card is being used and the merchant doesn’t have EMV enabled, fraud liability goes to the merchant.

The shift doesn’t necessarily mean that all transactions will change over night. There are millions of POS systems that require upgrading, and banks still have to issue new cards to cardholders. That said, merchants that have fully migrated over to EMV will likely reject a regular swipe-and-sign card, which at this current point in time, would include the Coin.

“It’s not going to be a black and white change,” said Parashar. “The whole system is going to be in a major transitional phase for a long time, simply based on the time it takes to switch over consumers and the resources it takes to migrate vendors.”

That said, Parashar told TechCrunch 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.

Today

It will take a few months for all 350k backers to receive their Coins, but thanks to a rather long beta program, Coin is expected to work in millions of locations. It does have some limitations, including transit systems (no stored Metrocards, NYers) and motorized dip ATM machines (the ones that pull your card entirely into the machine and spit it back out).

That said, Coin is equipped with a system that allows for over-the-air firmware updates so that the Coin team can continue to add features and capabilities to the hardware.

There may be life in Coin yet and, luckily, it looks like backers are finally getting their devices.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

12 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

13 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android