2013.37 | coin | macy’s beacon

gold-coinCoin – The premise of the Coin card is that instead of carrying a wallet full of credit cards, users can leverage a single electronic card for to use all of their credit cards from a single device.  Users add their cards to the app by leveraging a mag swipe reader with their mobile to scan in their cards. The mobile passes the details to the Coin card via bluetooth.  Switching from one credit card to another in Coin is as simple as pressing a toggle button that toggles through all the card numbers stored on Coin.  The card can be used via MSR with any current card reader, so no changes required at retailers.

The concept of the Coin card makes sense from a transitional technology perspective, and all the details of the solution are not yet revealed, but there are a few concerns with this solution:

  • Acceptance – Retailers and their staff may have some qualms about scanning a relatively unknown black electronic device across their pinpads.  Education will be needed for store staff to be confident that this is a valid technology to use for payment.  If this is not achieved, everyone that spent $100 will be out of luck when they go to pay with their single card.
  • Fraud – What stops a Coin user from stealing cards and putting a number of them onto the Coin card to complete fraudulent transactions?   Hopefully there are some measures to verify that the person scanning the card is the rightful owner of the card.
  • Dishonest Store Staff – If one can easily flip through all my cards with the touch of a button, there better be a PIN lock on it to do that, otherwise you just gave a cashier in a restaurant ALL of your cards.  Hit the button and swipe to capture all of the numbers.  If they’re not dishonest, they may accidentally select the wrong card by selecting a button.
  • User Validation – How do stores validate that the user is who they say they are?  Is there a signature on the back of Coin?  Does it show the card number and expiry date on the screen?  Is a Drivers license needed for verification every time?
  • EMV – Consumers in many parts of the world outside of the US no longer use MSR cards, and we can expect the same in the US over coming months and years.  I see no chip option available but perhaps that is a future consideration.
  • Contactless – I like using the contactless feature of my cards to make my purchases quick and simple. No indication that coin has NFC capability

Payments are difficult and complicated and require buy-in from many parties to make them work.  The concept of Coin is very slick, and the hardware is incredibly impressive.  The challenge will be in the implementation, and if they can get over the risk factors, and gain an enthusiastic user base, perhaps Coin can lighten wallets everywhere.

macys-ibeaconiBeacon – Macy’s is starting a trial using iBeacon with Shopkick to notify users about offers they may be interested in when they enter the store.  More important than the actual technology is how this gets implemented.

If beacons are used in any way like email marketing is today, they will make virtually no difference.  I am spammed with email EVERY DAY with multiple messages for items that I don’t find interesting (hey apparel sellers – I don’t need ladies wear).  If we are spammed in real life on our mobile devices – increasingly an extension of our very selves – EVERYONE will opt out of this and turn it off.

For beacons to work, there needs to be something in it for the retailer and for the consumer.  If there are offers, they must be very very relevant, they must be valuable to the consumer, and they must be right the first time there is an offer.

I look forward to seeing how it works, but I’m not enthusiastic. This has been tried with SMS and other technologies, and from my perspective, the magic in this experience isn’t contacting people in a timely way, it’s having the right communication.  From my perspective, leveraging this platform for some sort of relevant messaging or entertainment to make a unique customer experience is probably a better use of the technology, though I understand the need to directly attach an ROI to such an enterprise.

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