Not everyone thinks the right way to keep from carrying all those plastic payment cards is to electronically put them all on your smartphone. A startup called Qvivr wants you to put them all on just one metal payment card, according to VentureBeat.
A card that can mimic several conventional payment cards isn’t a new idea, but Qvivr’s version, dubbed Swyp, may be the most elegant try yet. It’s thin, metal, and it looks and feels like a credit card except for a small digital display identifying which of 25 cards is set to be used. It also works like a conventional mag-stripe card at a retailer’s point of sale. Even better, Qvivr says, the card learns a users’ behaviors, anticipating the card they want to use, based on time of day or location.
If Swyp guesses wrong, the user can click through the installed cards by clicking a button on metal card’s face until the desired card comes up on the display, said Qvivr CEO Ashutosh Dhodapkar.
Swyp also comes with an iOS or Android mobile app and a dongle that plugs into the phone for loading cards. The phone also is part of the system’s security — the Swyp card connects with the phone using Bluetooth LE, and if the card gets more than six feet from the phone, the card locks. Unlocking it then requires a PIN, and if the wrong code is entered three times the card must be brought back within range of the phone to work again. (There’s also a restaurant mode that locks the card to a single credit card, so a server can take the card away to settle up.)
On the plus side for Swyp, it may be the best-thought-out version of the multi-account card yet, and while there are fewer than 300,000 U.S. merchants that can currently support Apple Pay and other NFC-based mobile wallets, there are more than 10 million mag-stripe PIN pads, plus ATMs, and Swyp doesn’t require anything special from merchants or banks.
And while Qvivr buries the information in its FAQ, clearly visible on the back of the Swyp prototypes are the contacts for an EMV chip, which Qvivr says will go live later with an over-the-air firmware update. There’s no hardware support for NFC, though.
Aside from the lack of familiarity, there’s at least one other significant downside: a Swyp will cost $99 when it ships in late 2015.