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Coin adds NFC capabilities to its new all-in-one card

August 27, 2015, 2:20 PM UTC
Coin's updated all-in-one credit card, Coin 2.0 features NFC and an improved magnetic stripe.
Image Courtesy Coin

On Wednesday, Coin (a San Francisco-based startup), announced version 2.0 of its all-in-one credit card will begin shipping August 26.

Coin 2.0 is a free upgrade for current Coin users, with all pending orders also set to receive the new hardware.

The all-in-one card syncs to your smartphone and can store your credit and debit cards. When it comes time to pay, you press a button on the card to cycle through your various cards and the card’s magnetic stripe on the card is reprogrammed with your payment information.

The revamped card incorporates NFC contactless payments and an improved magnetic stripe in a slightly thinner housing. Other new features include the ability to give your cards nicknames and improved display.

The improved magnetic stripe is welcome news, especially since the current version of Coin is unreliable and more often than not results in failed payment attempts. I’ve yet to experience a single successful swipe with final Coin hardware, and I’m not alone.

The most notable new feature is the addition of NFC. By adding a contactless payment option to Coin, the company has made its product “EMV Ready” in advance of the October 1 deadline, and becomes the first all-in-one card company to do so. Competing all-in-one card Stratos has said it will support NFC in a future version, but hasn’t provided a shipment timeframe. Other competing all-in-one cards, such as Plastc, aren’t shipping yet but have promised to support NFC when they do.

October 1 is important as it marks a date when retailers and card issuers will be expected to cover fraudulent charges made using chip-enabled cards and card readers which NFC—also called contactless EMV—is one.

While Coin 2.0 will began shipping yesterday, the company has said its NFC capabilities will be limited at first. Coin classifies its NFC feature as being in “Early-Access Mode”; meaning the contactless payment option will be available with select payment cards and vendors. Over time the company plans on enabling more card issuers and vendors through software updates to its mobile app and the card itself.

In the interim, users will still have the ability to swipe the card using a traditional magnetic stripe reader.

Early backers of Coin can attest to ongoing company issues and frustrations. Previously the company missed shipping deadlines, and then flubbed a proposed public beta program that promised users, who took part in the beta, a second card once hardware was finalized and Coin began shipping. And once the product finally did ship, it’s performance was disappointing.

With Coin 2.0, the company is attempting to make amends with users it let down. If done right, an improved magnetic stripe and NFC capabilities will go a long way towards regaining user trust.

Current Coin users can opt to upgrade to Coin 2.0 through the iOS or Android app. After doing so, they’re given an estimated shipment date. For me, despite the company stating Coin 2.0 would begin shipping today, I’ll need to wait until sometime in Q1 2016 for mine to arrive. Oh boy, here we go again.

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