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Coin adds new features, addresses security concerns for its credit-card replacement

Coin adds new features, addresses security concerns for its credit-card replacement

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Less than a week after announcing its credit card-sized digital wallet, startup Coin has hit its initial pre-sale goal and is adding a few new features, as well as answering some questions that have worried potential buyers. The Coin card is designed to replace credit, bank, gift, and loyalty cards by letting users scan them into a single device that syncs with a phone. Once users scan cards, they can flip through them with a single button before handing the Coin to a cashier or swiping it themselves like an ordinary card. It's a convenient solution, but it also raised some obvious risks. Will your money become useless if your phone dies? Can a cashier or waiter accidentally hit the button and swipe the wrong card? Can Coin owners secretly scan other people's credit cards and use them?

Today, the company announced new features to address those first two problems. If your phone dies, you can now use a morse code-like sequence to temporarily unpair the card, though you obviously won't have access to features like the messages Coin sends if you leave it behind. To stop someone from accidentally using the wrong card, the mobile app will also let you set the Coin to auto-lock on the currently selected option once it gets too far away from your phone. There's also a new alarm that tracks how many times the card is swiped, so the app can let you know if the Coin is being used more than once when you're not with it.

Coin has also addressed some other issues in an FAQ, including the question of secretly using someone else's card. If the information on the card doesn't match what's in your app, the company says, you won't be able to add it, and Coin itself has a printed name and signature for cashiers to read. It's possible to think of ways around this, but it certainly makes the card unfriendly for casual scammers. Despite these earlier concerns, the Coin has so far garnered a positive response. The company initially targeted a $50,000 goal for pre-sales, which it hit within the first 40 minutes; since each pre-sale is $50, that adds up to 1,000 or more units. It's apparently "on pace" to become the most successful hardware crowdfunding effort ever, though Coin hasn't yet provided any information about what that really means. For anyone who's already ordered, the first batch of cards are set to ship in the summer of 2014.