Coin vs. Echo

This past June, in the post “A new card to rule them all,” I wrote about a new credit card device called Echo that could replace all of the cards in your wallet.  And, in response to that post, the blogosphere snoozed. 

Then, last week, a seemingly identical product called Coin was announced.  As far as I can tell from the hype, Coin is functionally identical to Echo.  The primary difference is that news of Coin has been everywhere.  Meanwhile, news about Echo has been quiet.

  Echo   Coin
  Echo Coin

 

When I last spoke with the team developing Echo, they were struggling to secure the funding needed to manufacture the card.  Coin has taken a different approach.  They are pre-selling the card to consumers as a way to raise the necessary funding now.  To encourage sales, they are offering the device half-off for pre-orders ($50 instead of $100) and they’re offering a $5 referral fee for encouraging your friends to pre-order Coin. 

Clearly the Coin team has the superior fundraising and marketing approach.  If that’s all that mattered, I would pre-order Coin for myself.  There are, though, many technical and business issues still to overcome.  Will either device stand up to the stress that normal credit cards are put through?  Will they be secure?  Will merchants accept these strange looking cards? Will credit card companies cry foul when their cards are being used without their logos? 

Personally, I really want a product like this to succeed.  I have over 20 active credit cards and seemingly countless debit cards, prepaid cards, and gift cards. I’d be a happy camper if I could leave home without these cards but still have them available when needed.  That said, I’m not willing to bet on these products succeeding.  So, I’m going to sit out of the Coin pre-order frenzy, but I’m rooting from the stands for success… for both cards.

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Comments

  1. Fascinating comparison thanks.

    As far as the product side wonder if Echo still has the 3 simultaneous card limit. Which doesn’t help the wallet stuffing problem much.

    • When I last talked with Thiago, he said they were still trying to decide whether the 3 buttons on the card would be used to each uniquely select a card, or to be used like arrow keys to scroll through a longer list. Either way, you can have more cards on your iPhone and transfer them over as needed.

  2. Sitting on the sidelines for this too. Walla.by is another card that hopefully will pan out some day, but I don’t think those days will be anytime soon.

  3. If these entrepreneurs are so hard up for $50k advance money, they must have FICO scores lower than whale poop. You have better chances investing with Bernie.

  4. It’s kinda strange how tech works in US…we seem years in advance in some areas, and in some others, like IT and what not, we seem to live in a dinosaur era.

    MANY countries aside from US, have already adapted the NFC technology to transact credit card purchases. Basically, all you need is your phone to make your purchase, instead of running through the hoopla of having something else EXTRA to carry around. I really don’t see how COIN and ECHO is going to mustard any kind of following when there is CLEARLY a better technology that is not being used in the US

  5. An interesting comment from today’s SANS NewsBites security newsletter:

    “The enabling technology for this device is
    Bluetooth Low Energy (designed for extended use with “watch” batteries) that is used for its setup and security. The perhaps not so obvious problem with it is that it lowers the cost and increases the mobility of “skimming” and counterfeiting mag-stripe cards; it is a skimmer/replicator. Since many applications no longer require us to surrender our cards, this may be less of a problem than it used to be. However, one would not want one’s “waiter” (or one’s Christmas hire at Bloomingdale’s) to have one of these.”

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