Mobile Tech: The Convenience of COIN

COIN isn’t quite wearable technology, but something a bit better – smart and secure. How can you put it to use?

Considering the recent enthusiasm for wearable technology such as smart watches and Google Glass, it’s hardly a surprise that a tech startup has tackled the annoyance of having a wallet that always seems to be too full.

Coin is an electronic card capable of doing the job of up to eight credit, debit, rewards, gift and membership cards. It comes in the form of a black device with a small display screen and looks otherwise indiscernible from a credit card. Coin stores card information, allowing the user to toggle through their stored cards to select the one they wish to use. It swipes just like any other credit card and can be used anywhere cards are accepted without affecting rewards programs. Coin does not need to be charged or connected to a power source, and developers say to expect two years of regular use before it needs to be replaced.

Coin communicates with a user’s phone through a mobile app currently compatible with iOS and Android systems. Users take photos of cards they wish to add and then swipe the cards using a device provided with their Coin. The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection making this communication possible is perhaps Coin’s most interesting security feature. The Coin card can notify the user’s phone when it has been left behind and can even be set to automatically shut off when it is a certain distance from the Bluetooth connection. Now, anyone who has ever owned a cell phone knows this presents a myriad of potential obstacles. However, if the phone dies or is left somewhere by mistake, the Coin card can be reactivated by pressing a button using what developers call a “Morse code-like” password.

As with any product that pertains to personal financial information, there are further security concerns to be considered. The startup claims to be in the process of obtaining PCI-DSS certification, which states that they are in compliance with the standards set by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Council. Technologies like Coin operate in somewhat of a regulatory gray area, so questions raised over Bluetooth and mobile security are not unwarranted. StoreFinancial Director of Information Security Andrew Barrett points out that while PCI-DSS compliance is essential for companies like Coin to gain trust, it is merely one of the benchmarks to consider. “If a company is open, honest and specific about its information security controls and practices, then a consumer can feel better about using and trusting the technology,” Barrett says.

At its launch, Coin surpassed its crowd-funding campaign goal of $50,000 in 40 minutes, thanks in part to the highly anticipated gadget being offered at half price during presale. More information can be found in the product video and website link below.

Story by Lindsey Kennedy