Last weekend I was out to dinner with my wife. An older couple at the table next to us was brought their bill and when the waitress returned, the husband pulled out his wallet.

From his wallet he pulled out two credit cards – one a Coin card and the other a regular credit card. The gentleman explained that he would like her to try the Coin card first, but that he also anticipated problems.

“The Coin card’s great, because it allows me to store all of my credit cards on it," he said, "Problem is it doesn’t work all the time. That’s why I also carry this card. If the Coin card doesn’t work, just use this.”

This was the first time I had seen someone attempt to use Coin at a restaurant. I find it odd that Coin hasn’t become bigger than it is and at the same time, the conversation I overheard pretty much explains why it hasn’t gotten bigger.

It’s an object lesson in the rule of 10x better products. Coin sounds like a great idea, but users haven’t made the switch in compelling numbers (note that the gentleman had to explain what it was to the waitress who handles credit cards all day at work). Coin started shipping a year ago, in early 2015 (there was a Beta available before that). I suspect there are several problems:

 

INFORMATION

Users are unsure of trusting this new device with all of their credit card information. Perhaps in users’ minds it represents a single point of failure for their financial security (if someone steals their Coin card, then they have ALL of their credit cards). It’s on Coin to do everything they can to inform customers and convince them that it’s safe, and easy to use. Here is Coin’s FAQ. Judge for yourself if this allays users’ fears or not.

 

REALLY BETTER?

I carry two credit cards (one of which I never use) and an ATM card in my wallet. I would like to lighten my wallet, sure. But are the two extra cards in my wallet such an inconvenience that I need a new solution? It’s perhaps not 10x better.

 

RELIABILITY

When Coin launched, a friend at work ordered one. He was quickly frustrated with how often it failed to work as designed. He quickly gave it up after about a week. Apparently this is a problem that persists a year after launch. This must have a huge impact on user conversion. 

It’s a reminder about how hard it is to launch a successful product. A good idea isn’t enough. You need to be solving a real problem and be a far better solution. You have to educate potential users on why your solution is so good (don’t take it as an article of fact that they’ll understand intuitively). And you better execute flawlessly. 

The waitress returned a few minutes later and explained the Coin card wouldn’t process; she ran the backup card as a result.

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