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Earning lots of points and miles means having lots of credit cards, and having lots of credit cards means either carrying around an enormous wallet or being forced to leave most of your cards at home. So a few years ago, several companies announced plans to create all-in-one “smart card” devices, with the idea being that you’d electronically “load” your multiple cards into one credit card device which would then be the only card you’d carry in your wallet.
Unfortunately, this has always been an idea that’s easier to propose than execute. Banks are understandably not thrilled with the idea of devices that “copy” information from credit cards, and with EMV chip technology now more common across the US credit card market, creating a device that could work everywhere at a reasonable cost was always a difficult prospect.
So perhaps it shouldn’t be that surprising that Plastc, a company that claimed to be producing such a device, informed customers in a letter posted to its website on April 20 that instead of doing so, it has laid off all its staff and will file for bankruptcy:
The letter goes on to explain that two different rounds of expected additional investor funding fell through, resulting in the company being unable to move into production. The really bad news here is that folks who pre-ordered a Plastc card but will never actually get it won’t be getting any of their money back either.
Plastc isn’t the first all-in-one smart card to kick the bucket. The Coin card, which was announced in 2013 and actually made it into production, was shut down this past February after the service was purchased by Fitbit in 2016, although you can still use an existing Coin card until the battery runs out so long as you don’t need to load any new credit cards to it. But the bigger issue in this case is that Plastc — which is unrelated to the similarly named bill payment service Plastiq — raised a reported $9 million in pre-orders, yet those customers who paid up to $155 in advance for a card are out of luck.
It’s always risky to pre-pay for a product that doesn’t exist yet, but when it comes to smart cards, at this point one should probably be ultra wary of any startups claiming to have cracked the code. In the meantime, while you can’t use mobile payments everywhere yet, at least you probably don’t have to worry about the companies behind Apple Pay or Android Pay disappearing anytime soon.
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