A while back I wrote about Coin, the latest startup that offered a programmable credit card. In effect it allowed you to “store” up to eight cards one their special credit card and change between them, allowing you to pare down the amount of cards you’d need in your wallet. The idea is interesting, but I lamented that it wasn’t a very large step forward in getting rid of the necessity of having a (thick) wallet.
Not a Card, A Case
Well, there’s another new startup aiming to go one step further. Loop, is aiming to provide you an iPhone case that transmits the card details wirelessly so that you swipe it over the card reader in the same way some cards now allow you to do (rather than swiping it through the card reader). Unfortunately their case currently only fits iPhone 5, so for Android or older iPhone owners you need to use the “fob” that you stick into the headphone jack of the phone. That fob is also what’s used to swipe your physical cards through to add them to the app to be used.
It’s a neat idea in that you won’t need to carry around a special credit card (that you may be worried about breaking), and instead have a phone case that does the work. But it is still not as cool as the NFC style payment system they’ve been talking about for years where your phone already has this technology built in and you don’t need a special card, case, or fob to get it to work.
In Related News…
On another “payments of the future” related news item: there are drive thru Wendy’s testing out payment by EZ Pass. For those unaware, EZ Pass is the wireless payment system used by NY State’s Thruway and toll system. You sign up and attach a bank account/credit card to fund the balance and you get a white box that you velcro to your windshield – allowing you to cruise through tollbooths (usually 5 mph or 20 mph), rather than having to deal with digging through your cup holders for change to pay the tollbooth attendant. I don’t know why everyone who ever has to drive on the Thruway doesn’t have one, it’s a great timesaver.
Anyways, the idea here is that instead of looking for change or digging into your back pocket to grab your wallet and pull out a credit card, you just drive thru with your EZ Pass already on your windshield and they get the payment – like voodoo black magic. Surely this won’t be helping our waistlines in America if this catches on…
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough free stuff for my Mac, iPad and iPhone. Yes, they’re not frugal – but I received them from work, as gifts, and subsidized from a gift.
In any case, there’s free stuff for them out there! Get it while it’s hot, people!
I don’t know about you guys, but I occasionally read stories about how awesome it’ll be in a few years when we don’t need to carry around wallets and cash and we’ll just use our smartphones to pay for things. We’ve been promised this future for years now, and it just hasn’t happened yet. About the closest thing I’ve seen in my own life is that now I can tap my credit card against the register instead of swiping it…whoo!
Google Wallet Offers Debit Cards
Google’s been trying to get everyone to try out their Google Wallet, which can use NFC for payments. Think of it like having a little RFID or chip in your phone that the register can read from a distance. The wallet equivalent of remote keyless door entry for cars. You keep your phone in your pocket and the register gets the payments details off of it.
The problem is that Apple and the iPhone haven’t played along and many phones don’t have this technology. Oh, and almost no stores as well. So we have a typical network problem where it’s not useful for people to have until lots of stores accept it, but no stores want to upgrade their technology to accept payment forms that no one uses.
So, the latest news from Google Wallet is that they’re compromising (or waving the white flag) and you can now get a prepaid Mastercard attached to your Google Wallet. So you can use a debit card just like any other debit card. Kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me.
Coin – 8 Cards in One
And in similar news, there’s a new startup out there called Coin that is promising to evolve payments (not revolutionize) by offering a card that can replace eight credit/debit/bank cards. The idea here is simple: There’s an app where you store all your card info together, and then a high-tech card that can “hold” eight cards worth of data and change its own magnetic strip to mimic those cards. It’s a very neat concept, though it really just amounts to being able to carry one card in your wallet instead of eight. If you’re interested, they’re offering a half-off discount for early adopters (so, $50). You can read all the gory details in their FAQ.
Don’t Have a Wallet Like George Costanza
Speaking of apps to replace cards, I highly recommend the app KeyRing to de-clutter your keyring and wallet of all those rewards cards and gym membership cards, etc.Frugal shoppers know that signing up for rewards cards often offers savings, coupons, special deals and more. The problem is that every store has their own and they wall want you to carry around another card or keyfob to use it. Well, KeyRing is an app that can use your phone’s camera to read the barcode and store it for good, and then can be used to show the barcode at the register again. That way you now have all your rewards cards in your phone and you don’t have a gigantic wallet from Seinfeld, nor a keyring that looks like you’re a janitor. Not every barcode scanner at stores can scan off the phone, but I find the majority can – and when they can’t they can always key in the code manually while you hold your phone up for the nice person working the register.