By now, anyone that even casually follows technology news has heard of Coin, the digital credit card device that has been taking the world by storm over the past week. To quickly recap, Coin is a digital credit card management device that allows a user to store up to eight different credit cards on the physical Coin card. The Coin card links to an app on your smartphone, where essentially an unlimited number of additional credit cards can be stored, allowing the user to toggle between them whenever he or she desires. According to the developers of Coin, the device solves the problem of credit card overload by replacing all of that bulky plastic with one single credit card-sized unit.
Coin launched their pre-order website less than one week ago on November 14, with a goal of $50,000 in pre-orders to fund final development.
They reached their goal in only 47 minutes.
Clearly Coin has struck a chord with the public, but how much of this is the result of a strong marketing effort from the company?
While I have seen direct advertisements for Coin via my Facebook account, the majority of coverage I have read has been the result of my friends sharing links and articles about the device. Essentially, viral marketing in real time. Coin is clearly a cool device, but is it really necessary? One comment from this CNN Money article particularly captured my attention:
“This is an over-engineered solution to a non-problem that will create new problems of its own. The George Costanzas of the world just need to spend a few minutes to clean out their wallets and still be able to keep the $50 or $100 for this thing in it too.”
When you step back from all the hype, it’s hard to argue with that statement. Unless you have more than three credit cards, you probably don’t have a problem managing them. Sure, there are the folks that have a dozen different reward credit cards and are constantly having to switch them out to reach spending limits, but those individuals are in the far minority of credit card users. To have to spend $100 every two years (Coin’s battery only lasts about two years, and once it’s dead you have to purchase another Coin) for the privilege of spending your own money is extortion.
Another issue with Coin is that it requires your phone to work. The company has clarified that Coin will work for some time without connecting to your phone, but I’m skeptical of how long a user would be able to use his or her Coin without having their phone. This is because one of Coin’s security measures is to lock down if contact with the user’s phone is lost for a period of time. The last thing I want to have happen while out with friends is for my credit cards to be locked down because my phone ran out of battery.
Despite my concerns and those of others, Coin appears to be skyrocketing into the mainstream – at least in terms of media buzz. We’ll see what people think when they actually start using them – the ship date is set for Summer 2014. I imagine that most people will find Coin to be an extraneous and unnecessary device, only to be left thinking what else they could have purchased with their actual plastic credit card using the $100 they threw out the window.