Talking tech since 2003

There have been countless attempts from tech companies to try and horn in on the way people pay for stuff. Google Wallet’s a famously unsuccessful example—if only because Google tends to succeed in most of its initiatives. And just as recently as September, PayPal created a mobile app to try and take a stab at funneling users’ money through to merchants, with mixed results. Now a new tech start-up, Coin, is looking to do what those others haven’t: namely, make it easier for users to pay for stuff.

Take a look at the promotional video for Coin, posted just today:

The video makes it seem pretty amazing. Using a smartphone app and a dongle similar to that which comes with the Square Payments app, you can add all the many debit and credit cards you normally stuff into your wallet. Then you swipe your Coin card and load it up with all your payment options. The button on Coin lets you cycle through all your different cards, and boom—you’re paying for stuff with one card, and a thinner wallet.

The most impressive aspect in the video is regarding the “low-powered Bluetooth signal” that Coin transmits to your phone, so if you leave it behind or if it becomes separated from your person, you’ll get a notification to let you know it’s gone. Now, if your phone gets stolen too, well, then you’re SOL, I guess.

Regardless, the concept is sound, the name is simple and memorable, and it actually solves a problem rather than creating a cumbersome tech workaround. Pulling out a card to pay for stuff is easy, and has become a cultural norm. Mashing your smartphone up to a cash register in the hopes that Google Wallet will work is no less simple, but not something that we’re already used to—and the fact that it’s new means that it’ll cause more problems than it’ll solve at the start.

Coin, on the other hand, identifies a problem—many cards—and seems to offer an actual, honest-to-goodness solution. Whether or not it’ll work is another question entirely, not to mention whether or not merchants will be as into the idea as the rest of us. But there’s no way to know until we try.

And if you want to try, the company is looking to sell discounted Coin cards as part of a pre-order. Rather than $100 per device, you can get one for $55 (which includes $5 for shipping). They’ll be shipping next summer, and I’m definitely interested to see whether it works. Will you be pre-ordering? I know one guy who is:

Look for Jeff’s review in 2014!

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