Using Coin out of the box

Coin lets you consolidate all your debit, credit, gift, and loyalty cards into one. It's an interesting idea, but does it work?


Coin comes with a square-like card reader that plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone. Cards are added via the Coin app with the provided reader or they can be entered manually. I couldn't get to reader to recognize any of my debit or credit cards. So I entered them manually instead. Oddly enough, in order to verify the card, you must swipe it through the reader. After multiple swipes, cards are eventually verified.

At this point I sync my cards to the Coin device. Syncing starts in the Coin app and then on the device you tap the circle once and then tap and hold until the display says "SYNC". The app will show a progress bar until completion and I'm good to go.

A rough start

Disclaimer: I've used Coin twice so far. The first time was at a restaurant. Our server had to swipe it a few times, but it worked. Naturally the manager was very intrigued by it as were the other servers. My nerd cred was on point. But I was disappointed that our server had to re-swipe the card.

The second time was at a gas station where I stopped for a cup of coffee. I swiped the Coin and got no response. I swiped again and it went through, but the cashier got an error. At this point, other customers were piling up behind me. I gave up and used my actual debit card.

The companion app needs work

Coin's companion app is an app of least effort. Swiping cards doesn't provide any feedback until your swipe has caused an error. Why not display something after each swipe?

Another issue I found was all of my debit and credit card info in the app being displayed in plain text including CVV codes and expiration dates. Just one savvy thief's glance over my shoulder is all it would take. Granted this same concern exists for actual debit and credit cards, but doing this in a connected mobile app seems wrong.


Coin is not reliable out of the box and existing customers are going to find it difficult to cough up $100 for a replacement in 2 years when the battery dies. If you're looking to pre-order, I'd recommend waiting to what Coin has to offer in later revisions or taking a look at Plastc's (more expensive and more impressive) offering.

August 17, 2015