New technology turns all your credit cards into one
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Having a fat wallet might sound like a pretty good problem to have, but we're not talking about lots of cash, we're talking about lots of different credit cards jammed in there. Now, there's a gadget promising to be the only card you'll ever need and it's taking the Internet by storm.
Each credit card may be less than a millimeter thick, but together they make for some awfully large wallets. That may explain why a video on YouTube has gotten five million views in four days. It explains a new gadget called Coin.
"This is a Coin. All these cards are inside my Coin," the video explains.
Preselling for $50 bucks apiece, this "one card to rule them all" crashed through its fundraising goal of $1,000 pre-orders in just 40 minutes. The appeal is in the simplicity.
It works just like a regular credit card, but before handing it over you push a button to pick which of your cards you want Coin to impersonate. The magnetic stripe on the back actually changes to become your work card, your personal card, and your gas card.
"If you push the button, the screen will display the card you're using," Coin founder and CEO Kanishk Parashar said.
Just a block from a coffee shop where our story began, we tracked down Coin's founder. The company only has seven employees.
"Here we have the software department: Russ is the software team, Ben is our marketing team," Parashar said.
But they have high-profile investors and lots of eager customers.
"Everyone I've met has been extremely excited to see this technology," Parashar said.
Though the earliest coin prototypes are white, the final version sold to consumers will come in any color you want. And don't expect to see them around stores this holiday season. It turns out making something this thin and getting it right takes a little bit of time.
The Coin team had to build a testing robot that swipes the card again and again to make sure it works at every speed and every angle.
"We've got nicknames for different swipes, this fast one is called the bartender," one employee said
The parts are so small that they have to solder under a microscope.
Parashar: "This is a difficult device to prototype and manufacture."
Bloom: "How thick is it?"
Parashar: "It's .84mm."
Bloom: "What's the maximum that it could've been?"
Parashar: ".84mm." They've had to think a lot about security, like making sure you can only add your own credit cards and making Coin deactivate when it's been away from your phone for too long.
Features that could make merchants more willing to accept Coin, though the founder says that hasn't been an issue.
Bloom: "You've never had somebody say I can't accept this?"
Parashar: "No, never."
Coin plans to ship its first batch of cards sometime next summer.
credit cards, shopping, gadgets, technology, jonathan bloom
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