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Updated on Thursday, February 22, 2018
There’s a new smart card on the market.
Dynamics Inc., a tech company that manufactures battery-powered interactive payment cards debuted their latest product, Wallet Card™, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Wallet Card™ allows you to load multiple cards into a single card. Your credit and debit cards can be added to Wallet Card, and you can toggle between the cards depending on the transaction you are completing. You can pay using the card the same way you use a credit card, via EMV chip reader, swiping or contactless payment.
It was a massive hit with the CES audience, walking away with four CES Innovation awards, becoming the first association of banks, payments networks, and carriers to take home the Best of Innovation Award for Security Technologies.
It may feel difficult to get excited about yet another smart card. Past all-in-one cards that promised to make wallets obsolete have not fared well. Most notably, both Plastc and Coin closed their doors to customers within the past two years. We’ve covered the ups and downs of the smart card movement here before.
These two shuttered companies were launched as all-in-one smart cards where you could load any card you had onto a single card, but they never survived. Both Plastc and Coin took orders for cards and struggled to deliver products. Plastc infamously charged customers but never shipped any units before it was bailed out by Edge Mobile Payments, while Coin took two years to ship units before ending production and getting acquired by Fitbit.
In contrast, Wallet Card™ relies on banks to set up and issue their own Wallet Cards to customers. So, if you have accounts or credit cards with Bank ABC and Bank XYZ, you’d need a Wallet Card™ issued by both banks. This is perhaps the biggest issue for Wallet Card since the point of an all-in-one smart card is that you only need one, regardless of the cards you have.
It may not be the all-in-one dream smart card we’ve been waiting for, but the company says its relationships with banks is what makes its potential for success stronger. Dynamics has partnerships with leading global payment networks Visa, Mastercard and JCB, and global banks, issuers and carriers to improve the security and functionality of their products.
“You cannot release an EMV or contactless-enabled card without [the banks’] support,” Jeffrey Mullen, CEO of Dynamics, told CompareCards.
This level of partnership gives Wallet Card™ a leg up on those cards and new competitors, he argues. Also, the $110+ million in funding from investors that Dynamics raised provides needed funds to diversify Wallet Card™.
“Those trying to imitate us simply could never get their technology to work,” said Mullen. “We have been around for over 10 years and have volume and network-certified products in market.” Currently, Dynamics has two other products on the market for consumer use: LifeCode™ — a card that generates a code that emergency personnel can use to obtain your important health info and ePlate® Visa Card — a rewards card that lets you toggle between different rewards options.
Here are a few features that Dynamics offers with Wallet Card™:
- Battery and organic recharging chip so consumers don’t have to charge the card.
- Cellphone chip and antenna that transfers data between the card and the bank, which allows for updates and messages like discounts and rewards.
- Data breach and replacement feature that allows a bank to instantly delete a compromised account number and replace it remotely.
You can expect to see some banks start issuing Wallet Cards™ later this year, Mullen said. Additional card features will be announced prior to launch, a company spokesperson said.
It’s not yet clear whether banks will charge customers a fee to use Wallet Card™, they added. It will be determined by the issuing bank.
On the plus side, they aren’t asking customers to pay a fee upfront like past smart cards.
We’re cautiously optimistic. We’ll definitely keep an eye on Wallet Card™ to see how it evolves and how consumers react, but we are a bit hesitant about the fact that this smart card isn’t truly an all-in-one card.
Currently, there are many smart card adjacent options for consumers to take advantage of, like Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay™ — and all of these options are free to use. They are also simple to set up and don’t require you to carry any physical cards; your phone acts as your wallet. These services can be a great alternative to a smart card and conveniently come standard in your smartphone.