Enabling Technologies

Protean Echo, Mimics any Card that Possesses a Magnetic Stripe

Latetly, there has been a lot of buzz generated around electronic cards that enable users to store all their credit, debit, loyalty and other cards onto a single piece of plastic. Coin Card and Google Wallet Debit card have seen an astounding response. Another startup, Protean Payments looks to enter this space with its ‘Protean Echo’.

Protean payments was co-founded in 2012 by Thiago Olson (CEO), Chris Bartenstein (COO), and Henry Balanon (CTO). The company has received a total funding of $828k. Protean offers an application that helps users to convert and swipe echo into the card of their choice.

Protean Echo solution helps in integrating a users debit card, credit card, loyalty and prepaid cards into a single card. Echo has a processor inside that allows it to mimic ordinary cards and sync with your mobile phone. Echo mobile application helps users to convert the card of their choice with just one tap on their phone.

How does it work?

  • Users store all their cards on the Protean application by swiping them through a card reader that connects to a smartphone.
  • Once the card is stored the user can send up to three cards at a time to Echo via Bluetooth. The application allows for swapping of new cards according to the convenience of user.
  • Users need to select a preloaded card for Echo to mimic by tapping one of three touch sensors. Echo can mimic any card that possesses a magnetic stripe. It does not support chip & pin, barcode, NFC or any other RF protocol.
  • After this Echo can be utilized as a multipurpose card. The battery life is upto 2 years with no recharge required.

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“It’s the next generation of credit card technology,” Olson explains. “We’re making the Echo cards out of flexible, strengthened glass with an anti-fingerprint coating in white or black. We’ve packed the computer architecture into the card using a lithium-ion battery processor.”

Olson says what really makes the Echo card special is integrated Bluetooth, which makes getting the card information in the app to the Echo card a breeze. “You can take a picture of your card and it will upload onto the app on the phone,” he says. “A few seconds later, it’s on the Echo.” Though they haven’t announced an official price point, Protean’s website says that the device would be availble for $80 - $100.

The company has already met the demand by targeting early adopters, those in the design fields, and large banks interested in using this technology in the future. Olson says because the card carries so much technology, it’s expensive to manufacture, and that’s why Protean Payment will be seeking partnerships with banks. The company has also entered into a partnership with Silicon Valley’s Jumio  to utilize its card-swiping and ID verification technology, and they’ve gotten by so far with angel funding by leveraging such partnerships.

Some of the other offerings similar to Protean Echo are Omne Card, Coin Card, Wallaby Card and Google Wallet Debit Card. There is a lot of buzz being generated around Coin, a Y Combinator company. Omne has gone a step further in security though, by providing small buttons at the lower end of the card through which user can input a lock code or PIN and only then use the preset card. 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.

Chiraag Patel

Chiraag Patel is a Senior Reporting Analyst and the Editor of Bitcoin and Virtual Currency channels at Lets Talk Payments. He is an engineer with deep interest in MMORPG, Virtual Banking, Game Currency and Virtual Cash. Chiraag enjoys Reading& Blogging with focus on New Innovation, Technology & Startups in the Payments Space.

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