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Coin Solves A Pain. But Is It A 100 Dollar Pain?

In Mobile Wallets Should Fix What’s Broken – And It Ain’t Payments, I'd highlighted why paying by plastic card is natural and how mobile wallets are really not offering any compelling reason for people to use them for making payments. Furtheremore, I'd pointed out in Doubling Mobile Wallet Adoption By Halving Its Scope that merchants really don't find a strong enough business case for replacing their swipe- or dip-based POS machines with ones that can scan card details off of a smartphone screen, which mobile wallets would require them to do.

No wonder adoption of mobile wallets has been lukewarm and we regularly keep hearing news of one or the other mobile wallet shuttering down - O2 and Bart being the latest examples.

That said, carrying all your gift and loyalty cards can be very painful.

Cue to the new startup Coin. The Kickstarter-funded project allows you to scan multiple credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards into a single plastic card. Since the card uses magstripe, it works on all existing card readers.

Coin certainly helps you solve the pain of a bulky wallet. And by not demanding new infrastructure at stores, you can be sure that it will work everywhere.

But the question is whether Coin will find enough people willing to pay US$ 100 - or US$ 50 during pre-launch - to solve this problem.

I doubt it.  

And I'm not alone. In his Snarketing 2.0 post Coin And The TechCrunch Effect, Ron Shevlin says, "the price point is the other nail in the coffin. Please don’t try to convince me that this convenience is worth $100".

Mainly because KeyRing, Apple Passbook and other free mobile apps for storing gift and loyalty cards are gaining greater adoption. Even the longtime holdout PAYBACK recently launched a mobile app for its coalition loyalty program.

If Coin's basic product concept catches on, some VC or the other might be willing to fund the capital for giving it away for free with the hope of monetizing the transaction data gathered by the card.

On that count, the initial results were encouraging. Coin sold out its US$ 50K pre-launch goal in 47 minutes.

However, in the next two months, the company has booked only a similar quantity in pre-orders.

https://twitter.com/coin/status/426810550601797632

This signals a rapidly flagging interest, which was predicted by Shevlin: "I’d bet that many of these people stop using the product shortly after its release next summer".

Only time will tell what's the real worth of the pain solved by Coin.

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