Plastc Wants to Reinvent the Wallet with All-In-One Smart Card
If you have one too many cards to keep track of, payment startup Plastc purports to have the solution: a single card that holds all of your pertinent information, from credit and gift cards to electronic key access. Users can store up to 20 cards (though not a driver's license).
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company was launched in January 2013. The patent-pending, waterproof Plastc cards -- which have e-ink displays and can be swiped through like an e-reader -- are now available to pre-order and will begin shipping summer 2015. The card costs $155 and runs on a rechargeable, wireless battery. There are no additional fees when a customer uses the Plastc card.
The company is also showcasing a smartphone app on the site called Plastc Wallet that links up with the card and alerts a user when they make a purchase. For concerns about security and privacy, the app requires the pin number and facial recognition to access data.
And if it seems like a card that contains all of your identifying and financial information is just asking to get lost, the app alerts you if you get too far from the card. If you do lose it, the company says on the site that it locks up and can be remotely wiped clean.
So what does this mean for the mobile payments space now? Apple's new digital wallet service Apple Pay is being touted as a game changer before it is even announced, and it is entering a growing field that includes Amazon, the newly independent PayPal, and startups like Square, Stripe and Plastc's more direct competition, Coin.
The Verge reports that the two-year-old Coin which announced its card back in November with plans to begin shipping the eight-card storage product this summer -- but it hasn't made an appearance yet.
Plastc cards come equipped with a barcode, magnetic strip, a pin number you key in on the display, and an EMV chip (a fraud-prevention technology). As of now, Coin cards do not support that chip. This a vital difference between the two companies, in Plastc's favor. By October 2015, retailers and restaurants must transition over to chip cards -- if they don't want to be held liable for counterfeit fraud. So if a business continues to accept magnetic-stripe credit cards after this deadline, they will be held responsible for any fraudulent activity.
While it is still too early to determine which platform will win out, the evolution of the credit card is putting these companies on notice.