Coin may have kickstarted the digital card to store all your creditcards, but Plastc thinks it has what it takes to leapfrog past its competitor and win a place in out wallets. With Coin months behind schedule, and its lack of chip and PIN support, Plastc could have a leg up in the all-in-one card game — assuming Apple doesn't run over both companies when it launches Apple Pay later this month.
Plastc wants to be your all-in-one creditcard
Plastc is like Coin in many ways, but with some noticeable improvements. Instead of holding up to eight cards, Plastc holds 20. Both have e-ink screens, but Plastc's can display reward card barcodes. Coin has a non-replaceable two-year battery, but Plastc ships with a 30-day rechargeable battery and wireless charging base. Plus Plastc includes NFC, EMV and RFID support, none of which are includes with Coin.
The card also includes security features like requiring a PIN code to unlock your Plastc before using it, auto-lock when your card moves beyond a certain distance from you, iPhone alerts if you forget your card, and remove wipe support should your card be lost or stolen. To be fair, Coin offers similar features.
Plastc may be well positioned to take on Coin when both ship in 2015, but they have to take on the potential game changer in Apple Pay. The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus include built-in NFC chips for mobile payment support, and once Apple Pay is activated this month, it could be the catalyst to start moving consumers away from old-school swipe to pay credit card systems.
The United States has been resistant to making the move to creditcards with embedded transaction chips, but that transition is about to be forced onto consumers. Retailers are being forced into upgrading their card readers to devices with chip and PIN support, which will also include NFC — exactly what's needed for Apple Pay and other smartphone-based mobile payment systems.
Assuming Apple Pay takes retailers by storm, which isn't guaranteed since they've resisted cardless payment systems so far, companies like Coin and Plastc will have a hard time convincing consumers they need two systems for storing their creditcard numbers.
Where that could pay off for Plastc is with retailers using chip and PIN readers but choose not to support smartphone NFC payments. For those retailers, Plastc still has a place in the game.
The fight for our creditcards doesn't have to be a winner-takes-all game, and likely will end with more than one player: Apple Pay for our smartphones, and for consumers that don't want to carry their creditcards, a consolidated card system like Plastc.
Plastc, like Coin, won't be available until 2015. It's available for pre-order now for US$155.