Plastc Card

All your cards in one device w/ an e-ink touchscreen

#4 Product of the WeekOctober 07, 2014

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This is not meant to be a knock against the product, but just trying to offer a perspective from a guy that has backed a ton of indie electronics projects before. I wrote on Twitter about how this project seems a bit too far-fetched given all the technology they're trying to jam in the card, which presumably is a maximum of 1mm thick (regular cards are 0.76mm) – induction charging coil, a low-power battery, RFID/NFC module, Bluetooth, e-ink touchscreen, magnetic stripe coder or whatever you call it, and probably small CPU/memory components. All of that could probably fit in a small device the size of, say, a watch, but in a device 1mm thick? (These issues are also present with Coin.) I think this is a great product and idea—especially since Apple Pay won't be available everywhere for a while—but I question whether the tech is there yet to make this possible. The team has a cool background but don't seem to have much past experience in EE or commerce, which is crucial for this kind of project. The projects I've backed always turn out *way* different than anticipated, especially when they start preorders before having a prototype. I'm not saying it's impossible, but to ship a product like this in less than a year—it's ambitious.
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@wr That's what I'm inclined to think. But Coin's on-stage demos have shown that they've apparently managed to jam Bluetooth + battery + digital screen + magnetic strip into the credit card form factor, but I still think it's far-fetched.
@markbao "These issues are also present with Coin." — how do you mean? It is exceptionally challenging, but Coin have managed to get a sub 1mm device form. It's just exactly the same as a normal credit card dimensions.
@_jacksmith I just checked out a photo of one of Coin's prototypes[0], and it's really impressive what they've been able to fit in. No idea how they squeezed an Arduino in there, but it does seem to *work* and it's 0.84mm. So, I'm probably wrong about Coin. But Plastc looks like it has way more components/powerdraw/etc. [0]
@markbao I don't think that they do use Ardiuno any more. I think that was just the prototype
@markbao Best guess is some EE did some back-of-the-napkin math on what it would take to build such a device but never double checked the actual implementation details. After seeing everything Coin has gone though I just don't believe you can get this many features in a 1mm card without breaking a couple laws of physics.
Pretty sure that their use of the Visa logo in the mockup is against the network rules. Production versions of this (and Coin) would not have a network logo, which will likely increase merchant confusion. Indeed, merchants would have every right to refuse to take this (and Coin) without the network logo. Furthermore, it's unclear from the page how thick the card is and whether or not it would work in an ATM that holds cards, as opposed to dipping cards. Always a risk that the machine might not return your card.
@megerman 90% of merchants have no clue, as evident by most asking for your ID which is against network rules as well.
@mzuvella Asking for ID is against network rules? If they ask for ID and you refuse I presume they can refuse to accept payment form regardless of network rules?
@jedgar Yeah, has been for decades. Unless the card is not signed.
A Coin competitor "Plastc helps you pay any way and anywhere you want*. With a magnetic stripe and barcode display, your Plastc Card will work in all the places you already frequent. Plus, with NFC and Chip and PIN capabilities a software update away, you’ll soon be ready for the future of payments."
@erictwillis Not sure the 'chip' is worth 3x the price of Coin.
@mzuvella I definitely wouldn't purchase it at that price point. That's very steep.
@erictwillis Especially as a preorder...and we all know the history of hardware pre-orders lately.
@mzuvella Maybe 90 percent of these projects end up being delivered significantly late. I rarely do pre-orders.
@erictwillis Yeah, if not 100%.
The killer differentiator here is that it also has RFID so it can store office security cards (would also work for my CTA transit card in Chicago). These are cases Apple Pay won't cover and would make me consider purchasing where I wouldn't with Coin.
If Apple Pay works, it's hard to see there being enough value in the differentiation here. Credit cards are the ultimate "good enough" solution.
@davidlidsky Agreed David. This doesn't really address a "need" for me. However, it could for many. Like you said, I think the future is going to be a solution baked right into the mobile device with no need to carry a physical card.