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.
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.