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Plastc: A Coin challenger appears

Universal credit card Coin hasn't even arrived yet, and already a challenger touting superior features has arrived on the scene.


Just under a year ago, Coin was announced: a card shaped just like a normal credit card, but with a big difference. Users, the eponymous company promised, would be able to load all of the bank and loyalty cards on to Coin, swapping them with the press of a discreet button, then swiping the card through a magnetic reader.

It sounds very convenient, if a little behind the times in terms of technology in days when chip, PIN and NFC are on the rise. More so because the product, which costs customers $50, was delayed: it was due out by the end of August 2014, but the launch has been postponed until 2015.

The timing seems a little too perfect for a competitor to arrive, especially a competitor like Plastc. Like Coin, it purports to store multiple credit and bank card information in a single card, but Plastc takes it further, able to store up to 20 cards compared to coin's eight.

It does this by expanding beyond that single, ageing magnetic strip and adding support for NFC, RFID and Chip and PIN -- so even in locations where NFC is not yet widely in use (Australia springs to mind, where NFC for cards has only become widespread in the last 12 months), the card is still using both existing and future technologies -- and, since Chip and PIN is expected to roll out across the US in the coming years, it goes both ways.

Plastc's screen is also an improvement on Coin's offering: instead of a small LCD, Plastc has an E Ink strip along the bottom half of the front of the card. This means that full credit card numbers can be displayed, and it uses touchscreen technology so that you can perform a number of tasks: cycle through your cards; lock the card with a PIN; even generate QR codes and barcodes.

For an added layer of security, the company boasts a proximity alert that pairs your card with your smartphone; when the card gets too far from the phone, an alert will let you know that you may have left your card behind, giving you the option to set the card to "return me" mode or wipe it remotely.

Each Plastc comes with a wireless charging pad and is software upgradeable, too, ensuring longevity -- at least until the next payment system comes along. It's currently available for preorder for $155 on its official website, where you can also read more about what it can do. It's slated to arrive by Q3 of next year.