Can you spare a Coin? Universal credit card launch delayed until next year

Coin made waves when it debuted last November, promising to be a type of universal payment card that can actually behave like eight different cards in one. The concept is novel: Make a programmable card that can re-write its magnetic stripe, depending on which credit or debit card you want to use. Unfortunately, the expected launch date of this summer is now revised to next spring.


CNET reported the news on Friday, saying that Coin still has some manufacturing issues to work out. The company is emailing those who backed Coin with a $50 pre-order, telling them about the delay and giving them the option to participate in a Coin beta. The first 10,000 people who opt in will receive a prototype of Coin and not the final product — that is now planned for a spring 2015 delivery.

Part of the problem with the current Coin device is the swipe acceptance rate at retail establishments: It’s around 85 percent, according to the note Coin sent to those who pre-ordered. That’s a problem when a key feature of the device is to have a programmable stripe for swiping. The beta Coin will also be missing the function that alerts your phone via Bluetooth if you leave your Coin card behind. And those who opt-in for the beta program will have to pay an additional $30 to “upgrade” when the finalized product arrives.

There is also another problem with the delay. Coin is struggling to get its product out the door just as some U.S. companies are looking to change the credit card market by requiring the chip and PIN authentication that’s now common overseas and helps reduce fraudulent card activity. The longer Coin waits to release its initial product, the less likely it is to succeed in actually changing the card payment market, because that may have already happened.