Geode Puts All Your Cards on Your iPhone
“This is the world’s most advanced wallet,” says Jon Ramaci of his firm’s new product, the Geode.
The claim is hard to dispute. The Geode is an iPhone case that offers consumers a unique way to put all their loyalty cards and payment plastic onto one device. It uses the iPhone’s camera to photograph loyalty barcodes, then displays those barcodes on its posterior using e-ink. It comes with a rewritable magstripe card that can be reprogrammed at any time to serve as a proxy for any payment card you’ve loaded into the Geode app.
All that is protected by a fingerprint scanner — which not only protects sensitive consumer data, but also helps reassure merchants that the person handing over that piece of plastic is indeed its rightful owner.
“Cards haven’t changed in 40 years,” contends Ramaci, founder and CEO of a company called iCache, but not for a lack of necessity. Payment form factors ought to be smarter, and, at least in Ramaci’s eyes, NFC is not the answer. (He’s not the originator of the phrase “not for commerce” in reference to NFC, but he subscribes to the saying’s main gist.)
Ramaci is currently selling the Geode to consumers for $199, but he says that price point may come down in the future. In the meantime, iCache has other ideas for subsidizing the cost to consumers, through unique advertising and drive-to-retail opportunities for merchants.
Because Geode is literally attached to a mobile phone, iCache can combine location data with user info to provide uniquely detailed information to merchants about nearby potential customers. Then, ”with the press of a button,” as Ramici describes it, that merchant could send any number of Geode users a barcode or magstripe as a means for delivering store credit. If iCache can connect with enough retailers, it could conceivably package together $199 in merchant credit to offset the cost of its device.
It’s a young product, with plenty of scale challenges ahead of it. But selling your product as “the world’s most advanced wallet,” while at the same time offering enough features to back that claim and then some, certainly doesn’t hurt.
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