With the rise of major credit card breaches, people are scrambling to find ways to make credit card payments more secure. While embedded chip cards are on the horizon, several technology startups are poised to offer another alternative: smart cards.
Smart cards are credit card-sized devices that, either in itself or in conjunction with another device, store all of your credit card information, allowing users to only carry that one device rather than all of their cards. Users are able to select which credit card they want to charge on the device and then run the card as normal.
The four major companies offering smart cards are Coin, Plastc, Stratos and Swyp. Each of them pair via Bluetooth with your smartphone, which is where the user enters in all of his or her credit card information. The user then selects, from the smart card, which credit card he or she wants to use for a specific purchase. None are on the market right now, but prices range from $100 for Coin and Swyp to $155 for Plastc. Stratos is subscription-based, $100 for one year and $145 for two.
Aside from the benefit of extra wallet space, the cards offer added layers of security. The smart cards generate a one-time code for each transaction, which is meaningless to hackers. While all of the cards work through magnetic stripes, Plastc and Swyp devices also come equipped with an embedded chip, for all the added protection that transaction method offers.
As the cards all work through Bluetooth, they automatically deactivate if unpaired, so if the smart card is stolen, it will be non-functional the moment it is out of range of the paired device.
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