It seems that interest in mobile and wireless payment systems are experiencing a renaissance now that three tech giants are using their clout to get the message across. But while Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay might have their own separate, sometimes mutually exclusive implementations, they all want the same thing: to eventually replace your wallet. Now a new card is aiming to replace all three as well. Stratos is a new “connected” payment card that is almost as smart as your smartphone.
Stratos has traditional magnetic stripes, two of them in fact, that make it usable even with traditional POS and swipe terminals. It doesn’t have NFC though, but it does have Bluetooth for connecting with your smartphone. It can rewrite itself, depending on location or your commands. It even has an accelerometer for detecting tapping actions. Taken by themselves, these technologies are nothing new, but together they form a slightly new system that is partly interesting, partly amusing.
Stratos comes with a card reader smartphone accessory that you can use to swipe your cards into the system and it will record the magnetic stripe data for each. You can choose three of your favorite cards to be stored in quick access areas of the Startos card, three “buttons”, really squares with a grid of dots, on the card. Simply press on a button and it will rewrite the magnetic stripe as needed. Need more than those three, you can quickly knock the card unto any surface, even your smartphone, and the app will bring up your saved selection.
But wait, there’s more! Stratos advertises itself to be more accurate and more secure. By having two mag stripes, it is able to store more information than even a conventional single stripe card. This, says Stratos, makes it more accurate than even LoopPay, the technology that Samsung Pay will use, because LoopPay doesn’t exactly have stripes and loses a bit of information. It is also more secure, again claims Stratos, because of its use of bank-level security and a one-time key to hide sensitive information. And when all else fails, like with a lost card, Stratos will wipe any information stored on it when it goes beyond Bluetooth range for a specified amount of time.
Now for the fine print. Unlike other payment systems like Coin or Plastic, Stratos doesn’t use a one time payment system of a fixed amount. Instead, it is subscription based with an annual price tag of $95. That, however, already includes an upgrade to a new card every year, which is a good thing since the card’s batteries, yes, it has batteries, only lasts two years. Stratos is available now and will ship starting next month.