In March 2015, PYMNTS reported that another all-in-one credit card was officially launching into the market soon.
Now, as 2015 wraps up, it seems that the Stratos Card, known as the universal credit card, will be shutting down, according to a TechCrunch report. The company that was founded in 2012 by Thiago Olson and Chris Bartenstein has had a few successful rounds of funding, totaling $6.63 million in three rounds, but TechCrunch’s sources say the company ran out of funds.
So, how was this card supposed to work? The Stratos card comes with a mag stripe reader that plugs into a smartphone that allows readers to add their cards to the Stratos app via swiping. The card, which was designed to consolidate credit cards into one single card, got some praise when it began its early entrance into the market — but then seemed to fall flat.
Perhaps it was using the card that threw the users and merchants off. To use Stratos, cardholders tap the device and press one of the three buttons, which allows the selection of a specific card. After that, the Stratos card works just like any other pay card and can be swiped through most retail POS.
Customers obtained the card through a subscription service that costs $95 a year (or $149 for two). For security, the card had both bank-level data encryption and a feature that allows for it to be disabled if it is out of proximal range with its owner’s smartphone for too long. When initially launched, the company did not offer chip-and-PIN tech on its cards, but the upgrade was said to be on the way.
But the question that was raised when this universal card was launching: With the world falling under the siren song of mobile wallets and smartphone-based commerce, is there enough juice in the market to support hybrid card/mobile pay schemes while consumers are in transition, or is this the transition step that no one actually needs?
It appears the answer now is no.
While the card worked as advertised, according to TechCrunch’s review of the product, it seems the confusion around this card turned off consumers from continuing to use the card. And then others joined the market, like Coin and Plastc, which use NFC and EMV.