Ease of Use
For the longest time I had a very thick wallet. Not that its width had any reflection of my personal wealth, but rather the excessive number of cards of various types: membership cards, starbucks cards, credit cards, personal debit cards for my personal account and the joint account I share with my wife, etc. So, when I heard of a new product called “Coin” that could store up to 8 card details on one sleek, easy to manage card, I was instantly intrigued.
The pre orders began in November of 2013 with a promised ship date of Summer 2014. Within an hour it absolutely destroyed its initial funding goal of $50,000, and by the time the dust had settled nearly 350,000 people reserved one, myself included. Then, Summer 2014 came and no Coin arrived. Then Fall 2014 came and Apple announced the arrival of Apple Pay alongside their new flagship phone, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Still no Coin. Months passed, and as Apple Pay expanded its influence and other alternative “digital wallet” payment methods sprung up, Coin remained un-shipped.
When my Coin finally arrived a few weeks ago, my initial response wasn’t excitement or joy, but was more like the confusion you experience when a complete stranger walks up and says your name excitedly like they’ve known you for years. I’m sorry, do I know you?
Being the tech-junkie that I am, however, I couldn’t just leave it in its box and refuse to speak of it again. So, I downloaded the Coin app, set my unique touch-code and began importing cards. I tried using the included card-swiper to easily import my cards, but it wasn’t very successful: of the 6 cards I added, only two of them worked within the first 3 swipes. The others were added manually. Already I was comparing my experience with my other digital wallet, Apple Pay, and wondering just how useful this would end up being for me.
Then I got to inspecting the card itself. It’s made of plastic, which was disappointing. I was hoping for the $50 we could get a nice thin metal casing, but instead it’s a rather standard plastic material, not even as tough as some of the higher-quality credit cards.
The display on the front is pleasant to look at, featuring an easy to read LCD screen and simple font. By clicking the button below the display you can switch between your different pre-loaded cards, and it can only work if your phone is within range. This could be problematic if you plan on having Coin replace your cards, because on the off chance your phone dies, so do your methods of payment. Though, I would plug my own public service announcement here: always have a physical backup payment method when using digital currency.
Alright, time to take this sucker for a test spin. The booklet that came with the Coin said that it wouldn’t be accepted everywhere and that the app would indicate where it’s accepted. Okay. I go to a local Starbucks, pull up the app, it says nothing within 10 miles accepted Coin. That didn’t seem right, so I went in and gave it a shot. Look at that! It works! Cool. Okay so I want to let the app know that it works at this particular location. No dice. In short, for a device that relies so heavily on its companion app, the app needs some serious work. To Coin’s credit, it has worked in quite a few locations so far. I’ve rarely been turned away with it, but if you were to believe the app, you would think there were maybe a dozen companies in your whole state that might accept it. Finally, I’ve only been using my Coin in locations that don’t accept Apple Pay, which are fairly limited situations.
So, to recap: product is finally shipped widely about 12-15 months after initial promised date, materials used to make the card are largely disappointing, app used to load cards was not very responsive, and the interface of finding businesses that accept Coin or adding additional businesses is either wildly inaccurate or just plain missing.
In the end, Coin promised that the way you paid for things and managed your wallet would change forever. They were right. The problem is, it wasn’t because of their product.