Are “Smart Credit Cards” The Next Fancy Gadget?

Are “Smart Credit Cards” The Next Fancy Gadget?

If you think you’ve seen the latest in smart technology, don’t be so sure. Tech startups all over the world are rushing to design the next smart device and there’s no limit to what can be made “smart.”

Some smart devices are too far out to ever become mainstream from a practical point of view. Like this hoodie that can send and receive facebook messages by removing the hood, and a dress that makes cocktails in exchange for playing a game of truth or dare. It’s hard to image people lining up at Target to buy obscure items like these, but there’s one special device that’s getting a smart upgrade – credit cards.

Who doesn’t want a smart credit card?

No, a smart credit card doesn’t talk you out of buying a new pair of shoes or automatically deactivate when it senses you’re about to make an expensive impulse buy. A smart credit card is a new technology created by Dynamics, Inc. and promoted by Citibank that features a LED display, buttons to switch between your accounts, and special encryption technology.

The idea is that a person only has to carry one credit card in their wallet for all of their accounts. With the push of a button, they can select the account they wish to use, whether it’s a personal checking account, a personal credit account, or a business account.

Jeff Mullen, CEO of Dynamics Inc., said, “We are trying to be the innovation arm of an industry that has never had one.”

It’s true. The credit card industry hasn’t seen innovation in decades, which is odd for something people have been using daily for years.

Credit cards have become a staple for the average American, with 195 million people using them for a total of $527 billion in credit card debt. That’s not to be confused with the $797 billion in credit card balances.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, millions of Americans are still working hard to repair their credit legitimately. The amount of debt owed by Americans has decreased, but people are still using credit cards. Perhaps that’s because it’s almost impossible to function without one.

Credit cards are due for an upgrade

When credit cards first launched, they came with a magnetic strip on the back that stored the credit card number and expiration date. Since the information in a magnetic strip isn’t encrypted, the data can be easily stolen. To demonstrate their vulnerability, you can probably recall a time when the local news reported that someone had inserted a card reading device into gas station credit card slots to steal data.

These new smart cards, on the other hand, would enable the owner to remotely deactivate their card if it gets lost or stolen. Upon deactivation, the card’s magnetic strip would be rewritten and the card itself would just be another piece of useless plastic.

Not only do magnetic strips expose data, but they can wear down quickly from being used and being stored in your wallet. If you’ve ever worked at a retail store, you’ve probably spent time reviving a dying strip by rubbing it against a plastic bag or placing a strip of clear tape over the worn part. Clearly, this technology is due for an upgrade.

Cards have been upgraded, but they’re not smart yet

Recently, nearly all banks and credit unions in the US launched new cards with computer chips inside, in addition to the regular magnetic strip. Although this technology is new to the consumer, it was first available in 1984. These chips provide an added layer of security for the consumer by generating a unique code for each transaction. Even if someone did steal the transaction number as it was generated, it can’t be used again.

If smart credit cards came with the security of the recently launched chip cards, they just might be one of the most useful smart gadgets around.