A few years ago, a couple companies had the idea of creating credit cards with e-ink screens that could replace all the other credit cards in your pocket. You may remember them as Coin and Plastc. The former, after missing its target date by a year, hit the market in 2015. The latter is still in development. Since quite a bit of time has passed since the end of 2014, Plastc is now issuing a status update.
In a message to people who pre-ordered Plastc, the company was transparent about what is done and what's holding things up. The roadblocks aren't showstoppers, the team says, but they still lead to delays. FCC, CE, and ISO approval has taken longer than expected. The mobile apps are not yet ready. Stripe, one of the merchant providers, is holding some of the pre-order funds.
Instead of shipping by its most recent target date of April 29th (the original was summer of 2015), the new timeline is for August or September of this year. This window is based on current development forecasts, and it may change.
The list of things that are completed should be encouraging, but there are some disappointing elements there too. Instead of working with any wireless charging pad, the Plastc comes with its own proprietary charger. The hardware supports RFID, but it won't work at launch. The hardware necessary for EMV and NFC payments is there, but partners are needed to support the technology, and those relationships may not be in place at launch either. At first, English will be the only supported language.
The e-ink screen is ready to go, and it responds to both taps and swipes. The rewritable magnetic stripe strip also works, with Plastc describing the success rate as "very encouraging." We'll have to wait to see with that means, because with this type of product, anything less than 100% defeats the purpose of carrying one of these around.
For the complete update, you can read the full text sent out to customers below.
Plastc Card Status Update
Hello Plastc Pre-Order Customers,
I have read your comments on Facebook and Twitter and see the demand for more frequent updates. Going forward, you will get them. We have made tremendous progress and are excited to share our latest with you. You are our loyal and valued customers, and you deserve to know the realities that we face every day. You will see the successes as well as the challenges that we encounter while bringing a product of this caliber to market. Updates will come through social channels, blog posts and email. That is a promise, from me to you.
The Big Question:
When will Plastc Card ship? While we have made great progress, we will be delayed beyond our April 29, 2016 ship date. Based on our current development and production forecast our new shipping timeline is August-September 2016. If this changes, you will be informed immediately, whether the date is closer or farther away.
Before I share with you our progress and remaining challenges, I’d first like to thank you for your support throughout the past year while we’ve been developing and manufacturing this card. Our consumers are the inspiration behind this product and without your enthusiasm and continued support, we would have never made it this far.
Current Progress and Feature Updates:
As you know, Plastc is not a simple device. It's a complex system that has to be "just right" - all of the time. As our competitors have learned from shipping their product before it was ready, “sort-of-working, some of the time,” is not okay. I refuse to ship you a product that does not consistently work. Along the way, we have solved many significant challenges and have made some decisions on what the final card and app feature set will have:
- All components including the E-ink screen assembled and connected in form factor.
- E-ink screen fired up and working with successful tap and swipe motions.
- Production and supply chain is in place and we are manufacturing prototype cards.
- Rewritable magnetic stripe is working. While we still have some testing to complete, our success rate with the rewritable magnetic stripe is very encouraging.
- Plastc card has the hardware necessary to support EMV and NFC payments; however, partnerships are needed in order to be able to support the technology. These relationships may not be in place at launch. We are currently working on solidifying those relationships and will share updates as they become available.
- Plastc card has the hardware necessary to support RFID; however, it will not be supported at launch.
- The Wallet App is equipped to support barcode cards; however, barcodes will not be displayed on Plastc Card itself at launch.
- Plastc Wallet will only support English language at launch.
- Plastc Card will ship with its own proprietary charger.
- The Wallet App will not feature facial authentication, but instead use touch ID for supported iOS devices and fingerprint sensors for supported Android devices. A 4-digit pin will be required to access the Wallet App.
Below are a few of our remaining challenges. None of them are showstoppers, but combined they have slowed our progress and have contributed to the delay in delivery.
- FCC, CE, and ISO testing and approval is taking longer than we expected.
- Android and iOS app development and backend engineering.
- One of our merchant providers, Stripe, has chosen to hold our early pre-order funds.
- Prototypes require lead times for our contract manufacturers and component vendors, and lead times can change on a daily basis. Our next and anticipated final prototype is slated to be completed in the next few weeks. This should provide a fully functioning card. Once we work through any remaining issues, we will be ready for full-scale production.
As I said above, none of our outstanding challenges are showstoppers. We are more confident than ever that we will solve any remaining issues and deliver you a groundbreaking product.
We have been blessed and humbled with each order that has come in. We truly appreciate your support, confidence and patience. However, it’s going to take time to ramp up our production process in order to deliver all of our pre-orders. If you wish to cancel your pre-order for a full refund before your order ships, please email [email protected]. But I hope you stick around. Plastc Card is going to be an AWESOME product.
Thank you again for your support, honest feedback and patience. We are getting very close!
CEO - Plastc, Inc.