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At Long Last, Multi-Card Mimic Coin Ships

The Coin is finally in circulation. After months of delays, payment device startup Coin has started to ship its card that gives users access to as many as eight payment cards, the company said on Friday (April 17).

The company was overwhelmed by the 350,000 pre-orders, and the device spent six months longer than expected in beta, going through 42 test designs, according to the company’s blog. But Coin CEO Kanishk Parashar told TechCrunch that manufacturing problems have been ironed out and Coin has also raised $15 million in funding. The company is now shipping the devices to those who ordered it, although it may take months to catch up on back orders.

Once the Coin has finally arrived — already programmed with the credentials used to order the card — the user creates a unique “tap code” — a mix of six long or short taps used instead of a password or PIN — then pair the Coin to a mobile device via Bluetooth and add cards either by manually entering information, swiping a card using a Square-like card reader, or photographing a card a la Apple Pay. Then the data is transmitted to the Card using encrypted Bluetooth.

“Coin has built a custom 128-bit encryption layer for Bluetooth that secures sensitive information and prevents man-in-the-middle attacks,” Parashar said in an interview. “We use secure Bluetooth to implement the Lock-and-Find feature, which provides a real-time validation that you, the owner of Coin, are present at the time of the transaction. If you aren’t there, Coin will lock itself. And you, the owner, can find Coin’s last known location in the mobile app.”

Once set up, the Coin is unlocked by being near the Bluetooth-paired mobile device or the user entering the tap code. It stays awake for seven minutes (long enough for a restaurant server to swipe and return it) and then locks itself again.

With most of the bugs worked out — though the Card still won’t work in ATMs that pull cards in to read them — Coin still faces two large problems. One is a wave of direct competitors, including Stratos and Plastc, whose devices are scheduled to ship soon (although it’s worth remembering that Coin was also “scheduled to ship soon” six months ago). The other is the EMV transition that will begin making the current version of Coin obsolete in October. The company is already working on an EMV version, Parashar said.

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