Electronics

Plastc – one card to rule them all?

Plastc – one card to rule them...
The Plastc Card features an e-ink screen and a rewritable magnetic strip
The Plastc Card features an e-ink screen and a rewritable magnetic strip
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The Plastc Card features an e-ink screen and a rewritable magnetic strip
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The Plastc Card features an e-ink screen and a rewritable magnetic strip
Although Plastc can store no more than 20 cards in its Flash memory at once, if you want to use one that's been scanned but not loaded, you can retrieve it from your phone's memory at any time
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Although Plastc can store no more than 20 cards in its Flash memory at once, if you want to use one that's been scanned but not loaded, you can retrieve it from your phone's memory at any time
The Plastc Wallet app
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The Plastc Wallet app

Tired of digging through the collection of credit, debit and loyalty cards in your wallet? Well, if you are, then you're the sort of person who might like the Plastc Card. It's a new electronic card-format device, that can store the information for up to 20 other cards on it at once. You just select the card that you want to access via the e-ink screen, then use Plastc as if it were that card.

In order to get a conventional card "into" the Plastc Card, you start by swiping that card through an included reader that's attached to your iPhone or Android smartphone. The accompanying Plastc Wallet app records its info, so it can then be transferred onto the Plastc Card via Bluetooth. Although Plastc can store no more than 20 cards in its Flash memory at once, if you want to use one that's been scanned but not loaded, you can retrieve it from your phone's memory at any time. The Wallet app also lets you keep track of all transactions made using the system.

The Plastc Card has a rewritable magnetic strip, that lets it be swiped as the card that it's representing. Its e-ink screen – the same one that's used for viewing and selecting the cards stored in its memory – also displays bar codes where applicable, along with user photos and signatures for credit cards. Additionally, the Card features NFC/RFID functionality, plus an upcoming firmware update will allow it to be used in Chip and PIN machines.

Its integrated battery should be good for about 30 days of use, and can be recharged via an included wireless charging mat. A built-in light sensor keeps Plastc powered down when it's tucked away in your wallet.

Although Plastc can store no more than 20 cards in its Flash memory at once, if you want to use one that's been scanned but not loaded, you can retrieve it from your phone's memory at any time
Although Plastc can store no more than 20 cards in its Flash memory at once, if you want to use one that's been scanned but not loaded, you can retrieve it from your phone's memory at any time

Should you leave the Card behind at a store, an alert will sound on your phone, via the app. Additionally, once the paired phone has been out of Bluetooth range for a predetermined amount of time, the Card will automatically wipe its own memory – presumably making it useless to anyone else. Once the phone is back in range, Plastc will re-sync the erased card data from the app.

Should it be your phone that gets lost, the Wallet app is PIN- and facial recognition-protected.

The Plastc Card is available now for preorder, priced at US$155. That's a one-time expense, as there are no monthly fees. Shipping is expected to begin next summer (Northern Hemisphere). In the meantime, you can get more of a sense of how it works, in the video below.

Potential buyers might also want to check out the very similar Coin card, which is also in the preorder phase. It lacks Plastc's wide e-ink screen and it can only store eight cards at once, but it's also $50 cheaper.

Source: Plastc

21 comments
Ikeleaka Kaluva
Merchants may frown on the use of a card that does not depict the financial institute, that issued the card. Would you accept an American Express Card that wasn't clearly indicated on it? Would you lay out your information on an Apple or Android based system, that someone else or someone else's card could snatch, and then use on your behalf that didn't have your signature visible or security code written on it? This is a no sale.
Purple-Stater
I'm not quite sold either. Will the credit card companies honor user's insurance policies for non-authorized purchases? I'm also curious as to what sort of security is built in to (1) make it unhackable and (2) keep sneaky restaurant employees from doing 20 quick scans of customer's cards each shift.
Threesixty
My wallet can easily accommodate 5 or 10 cards and the convenience of morphing them into one may be worth about $1 per card...$10 max if you have lots of credit...but how many will are willing to pay money in exchange for shuffling cards? I have little problem selecting a card according to color or design, but mostly use one card, and on rare occasion need another. This a solution to a problem I don't have.
BigGoofyGuy
It seems like it would be easy to lose one card than if one had separate ones. If one has the information on the phone as backup, why not just use the phone? I wonder what will be next? Having a chip with all that information implated in our forhead or hand? I heard that some are already doing that.
VirtualGathis
"My wallet can easily accommodate 5 or 10 cards..." Mine can too, unfortunately my pants pockets can no longer comfortably accomodate the wallet once I have loaded it with so much junk. The original cards you currently fuss with are less secure than this device. If you have an RFID (contactless) card anyone with the right equipment can collect your card data from 10-15 feet away as it is completely unencrypted. The swipe cards can easily be reswiped or a card scapper can be attached to the devices you use like ATM machines and point of sale devices. The only protection you have is the banks insurance policy.
flylowguy
In principle this sounds like a good idea. But as in all things made to be techno-convenient, clever hackers will find a way in. Then instead of losing one card, you've lost them all at once.
Jeff Michelson
The Wocket, if it ever ships, solves the security problems and also can function as your entire wallet.
Koolski
I think the idea is cool. I only have a debit card and no other credit cards, but I hate all of the store loyalty cards you have to carry. I wonder if you can manually enter cards such as medical insurance or prescription cards that don't have a magnetic strip? In North America in the next 12 - 18 months, all credit cards will be re-issued to the new embedded chip credit cards. I didn't see anything to deal with that.
Koolski
Just to follow up, from the FAQ section on their web site: Can I use my Plastc Card in a Chip and PIN machine? Soon. Every Plastc Card comes with a deactivated chip. We’ll be sending out an over-the-air firmware update shortly after the product ships to enable the chip and allow you to use your card in all Chip and PIN (EMV) machines/devices.
hearthhealth
This card could be used by someone to "borrow" another's cards, copy them onto his Plastc card, and then return the cards to their owner, without the latter being aware of the "theft."