Two years ago I backed a Kickstarter called Only Coin. It was an awesome idea, I’m always looking for ways to slim down my wallet and Coin proposed a solution to that problem. The Only Coin is a digital device that you can put all of your gift cards, loyalty cards, and even debit and credit cards on; taking the bulk out of my wallet and freeing up precious space in my back pocket.
I voluntarily chose to wait for Coin 2.0, an updated and supposedly more compatible version of the device. Now, after two years of day-dreaming about finally being able to fit into my skinny-jeans once again, I had the chance to try it out.
Friday, Day 1:
Friday evening was my first night with Coin. I was excited to get it out of the box and play with it. I enjoyed its Apple-like packaging, and the device itself felt sturdy and well built. I promptly put two cards on the Coin using the card reader that shipped with the device. It worked pretty well, once I got a hang of the speed at which I needed to swipe the cards. I would not be making any purchases that night but just knew I would have some fun testing it tomorrow.
Saturday, Day 2:
Saturday went well enough, I spent time showing Coin to my friends. A lot of them thought the device was cool, although a few raised concerns that cashiers wouldn’t know how to react to the Coin when experienced in the wild. I was excited to test it out. That afternoon at lunch I attempted to pay with my Coin using my scanned-in debit card account, but to no avail. I switched the Coin from my debit account to my credit account and asked our server to try one more time, and it worked! She barely seemed annoyed at me (and actually seemed excited to hear about the Coin) and I was happy that it worked. Perhaps my debit card needed more time to process the request, so I decided I would check it later and went on with my day.
Sunday, Day 3:
Sunday went well. I was able to pay for parking in NYC with my credit card. I went over my debit information, and I did not see anything wrong, yet I was still unable to charge to my debit account using Coin.
Monday, Day 4:
This is when things started to go wrong. Despite my best efforts, I could not get my debit card to work. At around 10:30 am I received a fraud alert text from my credit card company (naturally, the one connected to the Coin). I had to have the card deactivated and another card overnighted to me. Now, while I can’t be sure that the credit card fraud alert was the result of the way Coin accessed my account, (it is possible that the NFC active chip was triggered), and it was my credit card company that demanded the card be deactivated – I can’t deny that the entire ordeal was a nuisance.
Tuesday, Day 5:
I was unable to use my Coin today, as the debit card function still didn’t work and not having a credit card option until the new one arrived. That night when I received my new card I promptly put it into the Coin so I was ready for tomorrow.
Wednesday, Day 6:
Today was another disappointing day with Coin. I attempted to buy some flash drives for work from Best Buy, but with no luck. When the cashier swiped the card it instructed him that the card was chip capable and should be used as such. This is an issue I knew I would have with the Coin; chip enabled cards might not play fair, but there is a NFC chip functionality that was supposed to be the fix for this. I tried it out, but again, no luck. The Cashier told me that he had seen three Coins this week, and that all the other patrons needed to use their regular credit cards as well. The device just didn’t work.
I went to buy lunch after Best Buy at a location I knew to be lacking the new chip-reading card machines, but after the Coin failed to swipe thrice there, I switched to my credit card.
Thursday, Day 7:
Today was a better day for the Coin! I started out my day by charging Starbucks to the credit card on my Coin, which worked well, and by lunch I was able to use my TD bank card after making some changes with the account to get the card working. I finished up the evening by talking a trip to Home Depot after paying for parking in the city with my Coin. I however was not able to buy my new Allen wrench set since the self-checkout was a chip card reader without tap to pay tech.
I think my feelings regarding Coin have improved since the middle of the week, when I considered titling article Only Coin: Only a Disappointment. The Only Coin isn’t terrible but it’s certainly not a replacement for all the cards in your wallet. With a success rate of under 50% for its first week, and no real way to trouble-shoot why your card if it isn’t working, the Coin as a device just doesn’t seem practical for many users, and most of the time is more trouble than it’s worth. It is a cool gimmick, but doesn’t quite get the job done.