A pretty Coin. Or is it? The Coin beta disaster

It’s not every day that a crowdfunding project catches my attention. Late last year, however, I stumbled upon Coin – a multi-purpose card that can store all of your credit and debit cards. With the press of a button, you’re able to choose which card you want to pay with.

What is Coin?

In Coin’s words – All your cards. One Coin. Imagine a world where all of your credit and debit cards can be used from one single device. Using Coin’s app, set to be released August 28th, users will be able to ‘scan in’ each of their cards using a Square-like card reader, and then switch between them with a simple swipe.

Here’s Coin’s marketing video.

The pre-order

You’re saying I can consolidate all my cards into one? I’m in! During the initial pre-order phase, Coin promised that their product would ship “Summer 2014”. It was a ways away, but I was ready to wait, especially if I could save 50% on the purchase! As with any crowdfunded product, there’s always the possibility that there will be delays, or that the product will never ship at all, but it seemed pretty legit.

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The wait begins

When it comes to pre-orders like this, it’s best to forget about it until the date gets closer. That didn’t stop me from checking Coin’s Twitter feed every once in a while. As expected, as Summer made an appearance, people became anxious, and some even suspicious, but Coin kept assuring everyone that they’re still on track to ship “Summer 2014”. Fair enough. Summer technically ends in September, so I gave Coin the benefit of the doubt.

The time has come. Maybe.

In the last few weeks, Coin’s marketing has ramped up heavily. They’ve been sending out “Backer Update” emails with behind the scenes looks, information about the product, and a continued promise about the Summer 2014 shipping date. They even stated that early backers would be able to “claim their coin” the week of August 18th (emails started to go out on August 22nd). I, like many others, got very excited when this was announced. My Coin would soon be on its way to my wallet.

The excitement quickly died down after reading an article on The Verge, which states that Coin would simply be inviting additional beta testers, and not shipping the final product like they’ve been promising. Not interested in joining the beta program? Well you’re going to have to wait until Spring 2015 to get your Coin – yes, even if you were one of the early backers. Oh, it gets better! If you do decide to opt into the beta program, you’re going to have to pay an additional $30 to receive the final product when it’s available.

This was all confirmed when my email came through.

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Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Throughout this whole process, even days before the “claim your coin” emails were to be sent out, Coin stuck to their promise that they’d be shipping Summer 2014, with no mention that it would simply be sending beta invitations, and definitely never mentioning the additional $30 that would be required to receive the “Gold Standard” card.

With any product, there’s always the possibility of a delay, we get that, but keeping your customers in the dark is not the way you should run a crowdfunding campaign. This delay didn’t occur overnight. I have to assume that Coin knew of this change week, if not months ago, yet they continued to promise a Summer 2014 launch. If they would have been honest with their backers, and announced the delay when it came up, there wouldn’t be the uproar that is radiating through online communities.

Joining the beta

Even though I’m incredibly disappointed in Coin, I’ll still be participating in the beta program, and I’ll certainly be reporting my findings on the product – if I’m allowed to.

Update. Denied!

Despite being one of Coin’s early backers in November 2013, I was shocked to find out what I wouldn’t be included in the beta program. Upon activating my Coin, I was told that the beta has already filled up, and I would have to wait until Spring of 2015, which in Coin’s terms, probably never.

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