Credit Card of the Future Is Its Own Computer

Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore and MasterCard are releasing a new credit card that comes with a built-in keyboard and display. The idea is that it could be used to incorporate some of the features of security tokens used today to produce one-time passwords that help make transactions more secure.

However, incorporating these features is the first step to adding other information like loyalty card information or even the ability to switch between different accounts while using the same card.

Not long ago, Frequent Miler wrote a post about Google Wallet’s plans to release a physical card. This was big news for those of us who have dozens of credit cards that each have their own niches. Google Wallet allows you to store your card information on your phone, but not everyone will accept a phone for payment nor does everyone have a phone that even includes the necessary NFC technology.

By tying the Google Wallet software to a physical card, you could pay as usual with a MasterCard-branded product but use Google’s software to update which of your own cards would actually process the payment. It would certainly save my wallet from all the stretching and heft when I go on a long trip and try to stuff it with all the different cards I might need.

Just looking at the cards I have with Chase, I use my Hyatt Visa for stays at Hyatt; my UA MileagePlus Club Visa for car rentals and international spend; my UA Select card for booking flights with United (up to $5,000 annually for the bonus PQMs); my Sapphire Preferred for booking other flights, other hotels, and all restaurants; and my Ink Bold for gift cards at office supply stores and my telecom bills. Throw in the several cards I have with American Express and other issuers, and you can see that things get complicated quickly.

I have long thought that the better solution would be a card that you could update without using a second device. Google’s workaround using a phone app is clever and not something I considered; it could be implemented pretty easily. But I strongly believe that we will continue to carry cards for a while. I am not in any rush to put everything on a $1,000 mini computer in my pocket that is too easily broken, stolen, or lost.

This new product from Standard Charted has many of the features of Google Wallet without the inconvenience of including the rest of the phone. Make no mistake, smartphones are great at consolidating lots of different features into a single product. But they often do this by saving money and space. A camera, a phone, and a computer can all go into a device about the size and cost (or even less) than any one of those alone. This is not true with credit cards. Putting all your cards on a phone may save some space in your wallet, but now you are working with a large, expensive device instead of a small, cheap one. And I bet you’ll still need your wallet for cash, ID, etc.

Having a truly intelligent card like this new product could be a significant shift in how people use and manage their access to credit. At the same time, these cards, while a bit more expensive, would continue to share some of the useful features of the plastic versions we carry in our wallets today.

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    We’ll be issued these by December 2012 to be used starting Jan 2013.

    • Teck

      Just received the card in the mail!