Electronic payment has become a popular way for consumers to shop without having to schlep around a wallet full of credit cards to be used in multiple stores. But mobile payment via a smartphone doesn’t quite solve the problem because Apple Pay and Android Pay require NFC technology that can only be used in a relatively small number of U.S. retail stores. Phones can also ring while trying to pay for something with it or be damaged if the cashier drops it.
Spendwallet is a new alternative -– a slim, pocket-sized electronic payment device that consolidates up to 20 credit, debit and gift cards. It uses magnetic vibration technology like Samsung Pay. Spendwallet’s version of that tech is its self-developed Magnetic Flux Emulation (MFE). The device generates a magnetic field that makes a card reader respond as if a physical credit card is actually being swiped.
The user’s driver’s license or other ID card can be stored, along with cash, in the backside slot of Spendwallet. The device works almost everywhere that accepts regular credit cards with magnetic stripes. Its rechargeable battery lasts one month. A Micro-USB charging cable is included.
When a smartphone and Spendwallet are connected via Bluetooth and the Spendwallet is 20 meters away from the smartphone, users are notified that they left Spendwallet behind. Spendwallet also automatically locks itself and self-destructs, along with the stored data, when lost. It works in conjunction with an app for unspecified operating systems. Spendwallet ships in October at future pricing of $130. But early bird Indiegogo backers can get one for a $99 pledge. Its makers are out to raise $30,000 by June 17.
Some consumers may find Spendwallet convenient. But prior similar devices haven’t gone very far. One knock against it and similar products is that EMV chip card technology is being used more and more by retailers. But Spendwallet’s makers are in talks with banks and card issuers to support EMV on Spendwallet using tokenized MFE and say they are trying to support that feature before the ship date.
If that does not happen in time, the device’s makers promise a software update as soon as it is ready. Meanwhile, their argument that phones can’t replace a wallet seems overblown because phones can be placed inside a case that holds cash and ID cards just like Spendwallet. Consumers typically need to carry a phone, but not a separate device like Spendwallet.