With Apple Pay likely to be launched in not more than a few weeks, card technology firm Plastc announced a new digital wallet that can replace all the existing credit cards, debit cards, access cards and gift cards in a user’s wallet. The company promises much more than what its competitor Coin offers, and the solution looks well optimized for today’s wireless device-based payment paradigm.
The card allows users to save 20 cards and barcodes on its flash memory. It comes with an iOS wallet app that allows users to add and manage different cards. The card looks pretty much like a standard credit card, but it has an e-Ink touch-screen, that helps users select from the stored cards. It also has Bluetooth connectivity to connect with the iPhone, rewritable RFID and support for other technologies related to payments like NFC, EMV chip, PIN and magnetic stripe. It gets charged through a wireless induction mechanism and is secured with a remote wipe feature that allows users to delete the stored cards if the Plastc card is lost.
The e-Ink touchscreen can also display barcodes. This will be particularly useful for those who frequently use loyalty reward programs that use barcode based cards. The touchscreen also serves the purpose of securing the card by allowing the users to lock Plastc with a pin. It can also display the user’s signature and photo id.
As and when more banks update to EMV cards next year, Plastc will update its firmware to make sure all new cards are compatible with it.
This added functionality comes at the cost of poor battery life however. The company has done its bit to maximize the battery performance by turning off the card using light sensors when it is kept inside the physical wallet; even so, the card will need to be recharged once a month using the built-in wireless charging system.
The company has tied up with American Express, Bank of America, Citi, Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank to make the account details visible directly to its iPhone and Android apps. The apps communicate with the device via Bluetooth and after a certain time, the data is deleted from the app as well as from the card. Besides, to enhance security, Plastc has also added facial recognition software into the apps, making biometric authentication mandatory for editing the card data.
The set of features looks very impressive to us, at least on paper. However, the competition is stiff in this space and Plastc will have to fight for its share with the likes of Coin, LoopPay’s Fob and Apple Pay that already has broad industry support including from major banks, card companies and retail partners like McDonald, Disney and Walgreens among others.
Just like its closest competitor Coin that was launched last year but is yet to ship, Plastc will be available only for pre-order right now, and may ship next summer. By that time, the shift to chip and pin transactions will be well underway in the US. In the meantime, Apple Pay launches this month, beating Coin and Plastc to market!