Hot New Startup No One Needs: A Credit Card for Your Credit Cards
One downside of Silicon Valley's ultra-insular groupthink fiesta is that it produces things like "Coin." Coin is a company that sells a product that will solve a fake problem, and soothe a tiny cohort of techie whiners. But when that's all you know, it feels like The Next Big Thing. It's not.
It's picture perfect startup delusion: let's take a real issue (people have too many credit cards) and then ignore the underlying problem (financial irresponsibility, excess, ignorance) in order to produce a superficial tech solution. Coin is a sort of "smart" credit card into which you can upload the information of your various credit, debit and rewards cards, letting you swap between them on the go, and leave the physical copies at home.
It costs $100, and will need to be replaced every two years, because unlike the boring old cards in your wallet, it runs on batteries and uses Bluetooth.
If you want to use the security features Coin advertises, it'll also requires the constant companionship of your smartphone—if you happen to lose your phone, or its battery dies, you'll have to make do without buying anything, I guess. Or use "cash" like some kind of coal miner.
There's also no guarantee everyone (or anyone) will accept this strange card-with-a-button. Have fun trying to leave it with a bartender if you open a tab, since there's no identifying information on the thing. It's also not waterproof. It also can't be used to make online purchases. It's also inherently riskier than carrying a few cards on you, as one lost Coin means everything is gone at once.
It's also not even shipping until "Summer 2014," which means, who knows if it'll ever come out. In the meantime, Coin is soliciting interest-free loans from potential users in the form of pre-order purchases that are charged in full
Did I mention it's $100?
Coin isn't designed for regular humans, who'd be better served just spending 10 minutes sorting through their wallet, saying "Do I need this?" aloud. It's a toy for people who make the toys, and their closest coffee buddies. It's a signifier, a thing to whip out at dinner among diners who'll be impressed that your debit card was sprouted by Y Combinator, as opposed to the bank.
It has, of course, received credulous applause from the tech press.