October 10, 2014
The ever-increasing number of cards (credit, debit, prepaid) carried by an average person in her wallet is a real problem to solve. Companies like Coin offer a new kind of hardware that enables users to store all their plastic cards on a single card and manage it using the smartphone. But Coin is not the only one to launch such a card. Other players do exist in the payments space offering alternatives to Coin.
Some prominent ones are:
Wallaby Financial offers a platform that combines all the user’s existing credit cards onto one card. It then decides which of the user’s credit card accounts to route his transactions to based on where he can get cash
This is how the Wallaby Card works:
Essentially, the user gives Wallaby information about her credit cards, and the company then sends her a new piece of plastic (Wallaby Card) that the user carries instead of all his other credit cards. When the user swipes the Wallaby card to pay for movie tickets/clothes/food/groceries etc, the service uses algorithms to decide which of the user’s underlying cards to use to complete the purchase. Several factors are considered while making this determination, including which cards the user has in her portfolio, her personal preferences, and the card that will earn her the most rewards for that transaction. After a six-month free period, the service costs $50 a year.
Omne’s solution allows consumers to access their wallets from their smart phones, and execute an in-store payment by swiping their Universal Omne card on a standard credit card terminal. Omne uses a unique technology that allows the magnetic stripe on the back of the Omne card to change into any verified card loaded by the user onto the Omne Mobile Wallet App. The Preset Anytime feature enables users to utilize their Omne Card even if the phone runs out of battery. The user has to type in her private pin on the back of the card to activate a default payment option.
How Omne Works:
But there is a security issue if preset cards are stored on the Omne card. Omne has taken care of this by providing small buttons at the lower end of the card through which the user can input a lock code and only then allow the preset card to be used. The user can also set a default card that can be accessed from the Omne mobile application. As an added security feature, Omne temporarily holds card usage information so the user can see exactly when and where purchases are made. This information is transferred to the user’s phone and the network, giving her the ability to detect fraud, and pinpoint fraudulent charges more effectively.
Card technology firm Plastc announced a new digital wallet that can replace all the existing credit cards, debit cards, access cards and gift cards in a user’s wallet. The company promises much more than what its competitor Coin offers, and the solution looks well optimized for today’s wireless device-based payment paradigm.
The card allows users to save 20 cards and barcodes on its flash memory. It comes with an iOS wallet app that allows users to add and manage different cards. The card looks pretty much like a standard credit card, but it has an e-Ink touch-screen, that helps users select from the stored cards. It also has Bluetooth connectivity to connect with the iPhone, rewritable RFID and support for other technologies related to payments such as NFC, EMV chip & PIN and magnetic stripe. It gets charged through a wireless induction mechanism and is secured with a remote wipe feature that allows users to delete the stored cards if the Plastc card is lost.
Here is an exclusive video highlighting the service:
The e-Ink touchscreen can also display barcodes. This will be particularly useful for those who frequently use loyalty reward programs that use barcode based cards. The touchscreen also serves the purpose of securing the card by allowing the users to lock Plastc with a pin. It can also display the user’s signature and photo ID.
The GoNow eWallet ‘Super Smart’ Card is an innovative product that helps customers to get rid of their overloaded wallets by means of a reprogrammable card. This card is an electronic device which looks like any other standard card. It has the provision of being programmed as a debit, credit or a stored value card on the fly and is re-usable. Once it receives commands from eWallet, it is ready for use and can be tapped or swiped at existing POS terminals and ATMs without any change to the existing structure.
Given the security concerns in such services from customers, there is a secure element in the card which can be clubbed to or can be used in lieu of the existing secure element on the smartphone with which GoNow Card closely communicates. The consumers are required to have a card reader to use this product. Using this, the card is loaded onto the customer’s online banking account to choose a desired payment system. Thereafter, the user is able to add cards from his physical wallet to an eWallet through a magnetic stripe card reader which connects through the phone audio jack. Thus, the need to update the payment infrastructure s eliminated.
Protean Echo (now Stratos Connected Card)
Protean offers an application that helps users to convert and swipe Echo into the card of their choice. The Protean Echo solution helps in integrating a user’s debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards and prepaid cards into a single card. Echo has a processor inside that allows it to mimic ordinary cards and sync with the mobile phone. The Echo mobile application helps users to convert the card of their choice with just one tap on their phone. What really makes the Echo card special is integrated Bluetooth, which makes getting the card information in the app into the Echo card a breeze.
Protean recently rebranded itself as Stratos and successfully raised $5.8 million in funding. The company has developed the Bluetooth Connected Card platform which would enable integrating multiple plastic cards into a single, dynamic card. The new dynamic card is in production stage and would certainly be an upgrade to Protean Echo. Stratos’s platform would enable credit, debit, loyalty, membership and gift cards to be loaded into a single mobile-connected card.
LTP View: A number of wallets have emerged over the last few years from big players like Google, Isis/SoftCard, Square and Venmo. Apple is the latest to enter the mobile wallet race and has really given the industry a big boost. All these services promote the ease of digitization of cards. They clearly convey the message that a user should not bother with carrying a card itself. In the current scenario, such mobile wallet companies are growing at a much higher pace than companies like COIN.
The products from the various companies mentioned above still haven’t picked up significant traction in the market. The fact that stronger brands are inclined more towards true mobile wallets makes the future of COIN-like products uncertain.