We all Pay

02.15.16

Plastc CardHow we pay for things is a constantly changing technology. From cash to checks to plastic, to digital, we have many options for how we acquire the things we want and need. There is an emerging technology that is finally hitting the market – the all in one card.

Perhaps you’ve heard of companies such as Plastc, Coin, Stratos, Swyp or others. The way they work is simple. Each comes with a card reader that you plug into your phone. You load the app and begin swiping your existing cards to put them in the app and on the new card. These cards will each hold multiple credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, membership cards, anything with a magnetic strip.

Once your card is loaded and ready to go you can tap, swipe or hit a button to recall the card you want and run it through any card reader. Many have modes for restaurants and other situations where you may need to pay but temporarily be separated from your card. Most have a lock function for when your card and your phone get disconnected as a security measure.

That’s where the debate in our office began – security. Does putting all your info on one card make you more vulnerable? Less vulnerable? Let’s look at the physical card itself. If it was to be stolen or lost, how much info could a thief access? If you believe the claims (I use claims because many cards are still in testing), it would actually be quite difficult for anyone other than you (with your phone and/or pin) to access your information. In this regard if you are ‘old school’ and still carry everything in your wallet and that gets stolen you have now lost all of your card data and are, in theory, more vulnerable.

If you happen to be a ‘new school’ person who likes less clutter and everything as digital as possible, you may already be using Google Wallet, Apple Pay or some other form of digital payment method. You probably have your phone password protected, and don’t carry most of your actual cards. The old school crowd would argue that someone actually has to physically take my wallet in order for my cards to be stolen, someone just needs to hack your phone- making you more vulnerable since you don’t know you’ve been hacked.

Is there a right or wrong answer? Like most choices when it comes to technology, it is a personal one. As we see on a daily basis – digital vs. analog, security is always a concern. Companies spend millions of dollars on it, and individuals should take it seriously. Truth be told, the security risks are probably a coin toss, so it boils down to what you want to do.

As the technology of paying evolves, so too do the security risks and the security features. As long as you are diligent about your personal security your risk is minimized. So embrace your technology, be it old-school or new-school.

There’s no telling what the future of payment technology (or any technology for that matter) will hold, but for us tech-geeks we can’t wait to find out.