Payments are tricky. Square, PayPal and others are still working on getting you to pay with your phone. Google Wallet and Apple Pay have and will try to get NFC to finally take off. Meanwhile, Chip and PIN cards are coming to the United States. Yeah, payments are more than tricky, it’s a mess.
The new Plastc payment card would potentially takes all these payment systems and shove them into a single credit card-sized entity that supports magnetic card readers, Chip and PIN, NFC, RFID and QR codes. It has a touchscreen E-ink display and connects to the companion iOS and Android Wallet app. It’s like the crowd-sourced Coin card, but with more features already built in.
The contraption holds up to 20 cards that can be switched on the fly but are protected by a system-wide PIN number. The card also uses Bluetooth Low Energy to connect to your phone and sync cards, but also to alert you when you leave the card behind. After a pre-set time period the card erases all stored card data and displays Plastc’s customer service number. Once you retrieve the card, it begins syncing all the wiped data back to the card without having to go through the set up process again.
The card holds a 30 day charge and is recharged via an included wireless charging mat. To extend the battery life a light sensor is built so that when in your dark wallet or purse the display stays off. When pulled out of your wallet or purse, it turns the display on.
Plus, in a partnership with Bank of America, CitiBank, American Express, Chase, Charles Schwab, US Bank and Wells Fargo, the card will be able to show your balance right on the display. Need to see if you have enough in your account to buy that new fancy computer, boat or shoes?
One downside is that when the card ships, while it will have the hardware for NFC and Chip and PIN built in, neither will be enabled at launch. Instead there will be a firmware update in late 2015.
Still the card and its technology look impressive. But Plastc didn’t have a prototype for me to see during a meeting and the images here are renders. I did see a video of the display in action inside a mockup of the card and their manufacturing plans look solid.
So you might actually have a single card to rule them all in your pocket after all this summer. Pre-orders for the $155 card begin today with the card shipping next summer.