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The death of Plastc back in April looked to many like the final nail in the smart card coffin. After all, the news came only a few months after the space’s other big player, Coin, called it quits. Of course, the loss of Coin wasn’t totally in vain — the company was ultimately purchased by Fitbit, which ultimately incorporated its mobile payment tech into the Ionic smartwatch.
Now Plastc is getting a second lease on life of sorts. The company, or rather, what’s left of it, has just been acquired by Edge, a Santa Cruz-based mobile payment startup. The company was founded back in February by Peter Garrett, a tech veteran who owns a bunch of flash drive patents.
Garrett and team believe the old smart card space still has some life left in it, mostly because smartphone payment hasn’t quite taken off as quickly as many anticipated. “I’m in discussion with some big banks, and they’re saying that the adoption rate of Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay is slow,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch. “They’re looking for something that can revitalize the mobile wallet play. They’re all seeing the same thing that we were, this whole overnight shift to NFC was just bullshit. It wasn’t going to happen.”
He concedes that “not going to happen” is probably going a bit far, adding, “I think it would be foolish to say that people won’t eventually move toward it, but we have a good five to 10 year window before that happens.”
Edge’s hope is that the company might be able to make the most out of that window. And while it’s already begun work on its EdgeCard offering, pulling in Plastc’s assets will give the company access to some of its hardware engineering, including key pieces like its touchscreen technology. It’s also hoping that it will help win over scorned Plastc pre-orderers, who plunked down money but never got a card in return. Of course, the company’s got a lot working against it on that front, given the fact that not every early adopter got their money back.
Winning back trust will be a two-pronged approach. First, the company doesn’t plan to finance through pre-orders. That hasn’t worked out particularly well for other smart cards. Instead, the company’s already raised around $1 million and expects to close a $10 million Series A. Second, it’s offering some consolation in the form of a discount for those who pre-ordered Plastc, taking $50 off of its $199 price tag when the card ships toward the middle of next year.
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