When a company called Coin said it was making a payment card that could digitally store all your credit and debit card information on one device, I was excited and assumed others with fat wallets would be, too. But the company’s announcement last week that shipment of its cards would be delayed until next spring raises new questions about how many stores will actually accept this form of payment when it finally reaches market.
The reason: Coin’s release is now set for the spring of 2015 — only a few months before retailers in the U.S. will be encouraged to stop accepting payment cards like Coin’s that don’t have new embedded computer chips meant to make cards harder to clone. By October 2015, retailers will begin assuming risk for fraudulent purchases in their stores if they do not use a new type of checkout equipment designed to accept these new, harder-to-clone credit cards currently being issued by banks.
Coin lets you add payment info from various debit and credit cards into its app and then sync that with one universal digital payment card so that you can toggle through different payment options at checkout. The problem for Coin customers, who paid $55 to preorder the card during a crowdfunding campaign last year, will be that the card doesn’t contain one of the new chips meant to make cards more secure; it needs to be swiped. Merchants will still have the equipment to accept swiped cards next spring and Coin believes they will do just that.
But will they really want to assume the risk — especially in the wake of the Target breach — that the card is a fake when they know most mainstream banks started sending out chip cards to their customers back in 2014? Or will they train checkout people to ask a customer for another form of payment in these situations?
As payments fraud expert Cherian Abraham wrote in a blog post earlier this week, “success of a swipe depends on the merchant’s risk appetite and certainly cannot be controlled by Coin or the consumer.”
The only way to know for sure will be to test out the Coin card when it is available. We’ll see if a big-box store like Walmart will take my card later this year if I’m accepted into the company’s Beta program.
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