Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Smart Card Geared to Convenience and Safety Conscious Consumers

As banks continue to innovate around the use and rewards structure of both debit and credit cards, the penetration of smart cards in the United States has lagged other countries. That may soon change, however, after Pittsburgh-based Dynamics, Inc. won the first prize ($1,000,000) 'DemoGod' award at this week's Demo tech start-up conference in Silicon Valley.

Leveraging a programmable magnetic stripe that can be changed at any time (but still able to be read at today's magnetic stripe POS readers) the MultiAccount card can carry different card accounts on one piece of razor thin plastic.

This could be a debit card and credit card, personal and business card, etc. Push a button on the card, and an integrated light source highlights the account being accessed. A card with a light source alone provides a WOW factor for the user.

For those users interested in an expanded level of security, another card (called Hidden) presented at the Demo conference by 31 year old Dynamics Chief Executive Jeff Mullen only shows an abbreviated account number on the card. To get a complete account number to appear, the user needs to type their PIN on a set of five buttons on the surface of the card. When the correct PIN is entered, the electronic stripe is then populated with the appropriate magnetic information so that it can be used in today's readers. In other words, the card is of no use to a thief unless they have the integrated PIN.

Both cards are thinner than traditional cards in the marketplace today, yet still have a small built in microprocessor with integrated memory which is powered by a battery with a three year life. Oh yeah, and the cards are both scratch resistant and waterproof, which Mullen displayed as part of his 5 minute presentation demonstrating the card at the Demo conference.

This new card technology is definitely coming at an opportune time, as bank marketers are looking for new ways improve engagement by stimulating the use of card products and the participation in rewards programs. With the Durbin Amendment set to impact interchange income for debit card transactions next year, bank marketers need to find ways to get top of wallet placement in the consumer's mind and through usage. The benefit of combining multiple card accounts on a single piece of plastic alone could have major financial benefits for banks. This type of product could also impact retention of relationships, further impacting the customer lifetime value.

As the planning process is well under way at many banks, an introduction of this type of product (which has been in a stealth test mode for an extended period in the marketplace by Dynamics) could provide the foundation for a new payments strategy. With behavioral segmentation already built into the product's benefit continuum, this could be the answer to many concerns of card product managers and bank marketers alike in 2011.

Update (October 5, 2010): It was announced yesterday that Citibank will be the first bank in the country to leverage the Dynamics, Inc. card programmable magnetic stripe, embedded battery and chip as well as integrated buttons on a payment vehicle in a well publicized pilot. The Citi 2G Credit Card will allow consumers to make a choice whether to pay for a purchase using a traditional credit account or to utilize points for the purchase.

“People don’t typically think of credit cards as an innovative product, but we are excited to be the first issuer to pilot these advanced technologies and additional choice at checkout through the ‘next generation’ of credit cards,” said Terry O’Neil, executive VP of Citi’s North America credit card division. “With Citi’s latest feature, customers now get a credit card that better fits their lifestyle and needs, putting more options right in their hands.”

At a cost of about three times the cost of traditional plastic cards, it will be interesting to see if other banks get on the bandwagon and develop innovative and segmented products based on this technology.


  1. Both these products sound very interesting. I agree with your summary comment "This type of product could also impact retention of relationships, further impacting the customer lifetime value."

    It is great to see a new US card security model that is compatible with the existing system. Hopefully Dynamics, Inc. will also address the issue of US cards not being accepted over seas due to different security models.


  2. It will be more interesting to see what large bank (if any) picks up on these innovations and packages them well. As with the Cardlytics merchant funded rewards program, the growth of the concept will be determined by the packaging and the overall innovation of the bank.

  3. Thank,s for sharing about New Smart Card I really like it...

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