At any given time, most people have at least half a dozen forms of payment cards in their wallet, credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, membership cards…the list goes on. In the recent past, Mobile Payments have been touted as the answer and has slowly started integrating into our daily lives. Starting with NFC, Google wallet and now brought front and center with the Apple Watch and Apple Pay.
However, there is another form that has been making waves in the startup industry – Smart Credit Cards. Currently, there are no fewer than four startups, Coin, Plastc, Swyp and Stratos, betting on this technology
How It Works
In essence, a Smart credit card works just like a regular card with a magnetic stripe, with the added benefit of carrying multiple cards in a single form factor. Instead of carrying half a dozen cards, you just carry one and use clicks or swipes (or their app) to select the card you need for that given occasion.
All four startups carry a similar solution, in which they will send you a Smart card, which looks a lot like a regular card. They also send you a magstripe reader that you use to swipe your current cards to add them to the smart card’s app. The smart cards can also be updated over-the-air with new firmware to add more features. Since they all have magnetic stripes, the smart cards are accepted everywhere that regular cards are accepted, you can even use them at ATM’s.
To add your cards to the smart card’s app, you first have to verify your identity which ensures that you are who you say you are. The verification process consists of your full name and the last four digits of your social security number. The app checks with your bank to see if it matches what you entered.
Once you are verified, and you’ve added your cards, you can start using your smart card. Each of the four startups use a slightly different method to select the card you want for payment.
Stratos lets you select your card via click on the card itself. It has LED lights that represent the four primary cards you have selected (you can change the primary cards via the app)
Coin lets you tap the button on a card to toggle through your available cards. Coin has an LED display that lets you see the names of the cards.
Plastc has an e-ink display that lets you swipe across the display to select the cards you want.
Swyp also has a display on the card that shows you the card name and account information. It has buttons that let you toggle between cards.
While Coin was introduced in 2013, they have yet to ship the product but you can pre-order yours at their website. Stratos, Plastc and Swyp are also available for pre-order through their respective websites.