Entrepreneur Kanish Parashar has an ambitious goal: He wants to replace every credit card, gift card and loyalty card in your wallet.
To do that, Parashar has founded a company called Coin. Unlike other companies like Square and PayPal that are trying to do the same thing with mobile apps and proprietary services, Parashar plans to use something quite different — something that looks like a credit card.
The Y Combinator-and K9 Ventures-backed startup has created what amounts a universal credit card that works using a patent-pending magnetic strip that changes on demand. It will work not only with credit and debit cards but gift cards, loyalty cards and pretty much any plastic that can swiped, Parashar said. With each button press, the magnetic strip on the card essentially becomes your card of choice, giving you the ability to carry around your whole wallet in just a single piece of plastic. A tiny LED screen displays the last four digits of the card you’re using along with its expiration date.
Cards are added to Coin using a mobile card reader that plugs into your phone’s headphone jack. Once you create an account for the service, Coin verifies that each card you add belongs to you and creates a mobile version of the card within the app. You can carry around literally hundreds of cards at a time in the app, and eight cards can be added to the physical card at any given time.
The device uses 128-bit encryption to secure all data stored and transferred, but it also uses Bluetooth as an additional layer of security. If your Coin loses radio contact with your phone, it will lock up and send you an alert. You can unlock the Coin with a code in case your phone battery dies, Bluetooth conks out or you leave it in the car.