Facebook has some really interesting ways to position products in front of its users. Not one day after a few of us went on a Coin rant I was presented an advertisement for Plastc, a bigger and better version of Coin that includes an EMV Chip. Early adopters of Coin had mixed results with the card itself with some merchants refusing to accept it, and current users are struggling with the lack of chip support in the device. Here’s why Coin will slowly be phased out in a way to be completely ineffective.
Embedded in the magnetic stripe of your payment card is a collection of data that is submitted for payment when you swipe the card. One of the elements inside the track is a three digit value called the Service Code (for more details on the makeup of a track, check this post). Traditional US magstripe only cards have the value 101 for that field in the track, indicating that the card is OK to be used for international interchange, through normal authorization processing, and there are no restrictions on the card.
Meaning, swipe away and it should work.
This is different from new cards issued with a chip that have a 201 service code in the magstripe. The change in the first digit tells the terminal that there is an integrated chip on the card, and it should use that instead of the magstripe for authorization. So as more and more of your cards have a chip in them, simply encoding the track onto a Coin card will cause problems using the device as the terminals think the card should have a chip in it, so it will attempt to force the cardholder to present the chip.
In comes Plastc, a new competitor with lots of new features (full disclosure, they have not asked for me to write about their product. I find it interesting.). Probably one of the coolest features is that it works with magstripe, Chip (with or without PIN), Barcodes (Oh hello Starbucks Loyalty!), and contactless (Tap & GO!). Essentially, no matter what kind of terminal you see, you are covered. For additional security features, they have proximity alerts (so you don’t leave it behind), remote wipe, and photo ID on the card. Like most cool electronic things, it must be charged. That could be interesting.
While I’m not 100% up on the mechanics of how cards are enrolled with the Chip, it sounds like these will be using an EMV token similar to how Apple Pay or Samsung Pay works today to be stored on the card. Pre-orders are now available through April of 2016 with a lifetime subscription included in the cost. If you are interested in pre-ordering, here is a link for $20 off the price of the pre-order.
For those of you out there that bought Coin, what was your experience? Is it becoming more difficult to use the card in a post-liability shift world?