Ask any sci-fi author, and they’ll tell you that predicting the future is hard. Damned hard, it turns out. We thought that the wireless technology used by mobile applications like Google Wallet, Square and others would one day edge aside credit cards to become the preferred (and much more secure) way to pay. But it looks like mobile wallets could end up losing the race to create a theft-proof credit card after all. A new type of card unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this Tuesday is making us think twice. Wait till you see this.
To call New York-based Dynamics Inc.’s invention a credit “card” would be doing it an injustice. Though the device looks, feels and flexes just like the plastic cards we’ve come to love and hate, it’s actually a miniature computer that uses a microprocessor to perform various functions related to security and shopping.
In the same vein, calling the new type of card an “it” is also inaccurate, because Dynamics has actually released a line of these products tailored to various consumer demographics. Their simplest model, the MultiAccount, features two buttons that allow a cardholder to switch between their checking and savings accounts when making transactions. The microprocessor simply rewrites the card’s magnetic strip with the other account’s routing numbers whenever the appropriate button is pressed. A more advanced model, the Dynamic, actually generates a totally new credit card number for every single transaction. This perpetually changing system of numbers renders illegal “skimmers” totally ineffective and makes the card virtually uncrackable. Of course, if your card is stolen from your wallet you’re still in trouble.
Oh wait, Dynamics planned for that, too. Made for national companies with large corporate accounts and a lot of sensitive information at risk, the top-of-the-line Hidden card is more secure than even we thought possible. In order to make a purchase, the cardholder has to enter a 5-digit PIN into the number pad embedded into the card. When activated, the Hidden will generate a number that is displayed on its face and programmed into its magnetic strip. After it’s swiped, the card will shut off – erasing the number from the face and the strip. Even if it’s lost or stolen, the card is useless unless the thief also knows the pass code. That might not make it totally fraud-proof, but that’s as close as anyone will get in our lifetime.
Pushing for Distribution
Citibank has already picked up a batch of Dynamics cards to test out on the market. The Thank You 2G card features two buttons that let you switch between using standard credit and using rewards points you’ve accumulated through their program to pay for your purchase. Though they’re the only card issuer currently investigating the revolutionary Dynamics product, we hope that more issuers pick it up in the future.
Don’t get us wrong – there are still questions surrounding the new “smarter” cards. We still don’t know how much each of these devices will cost and who will end up paying for them. The way we see it, card issuers will make consumers pay for these new products either up front or over the long term, and if the asking price is too high there might not be enough customers willing to play ball for Dynamics to succeed. However, we sincerely hope that isn’t the case.
Not only are these cards a huge step up in terms of consumer safety, they also revolutionize how rewards programs work, and giving them a fair chance on the market is sure to only bring about positive … let’s just be honest with ourselves here. They’re really, really cool and we all want them immediately.