Across the Board

Blog on e-business and online payments.

Cipher – a stylus with style

Cipher - a credit card shaped stylusHave you ever been frustrated with the inaccuracy of touch screens and your own fingers? Drawing isn’t that easy on a smartphone and sometimes even texting causes some troubles. Especially if you have big fingers and devices, let’s say, under 4 inches. Of course there are styluses, but let’s be honest – if a mobile device doesn’t have a dedicated stylus holder, there’s very little chance anyone will carry it around.

However, what we do carry almost all the time, besides the phone itself, are our wallets. And a wallet always has place for credit and business cards. Now the question is how to join these facts. It turns out that it’s quite comfortable to operate precisely with the corner of such a card.

People from quirky wanted to make it happen and that’s how Cipher was born. It looks very simple – a card with a stripe and one sharper corner. Sound like nothing fancy, but it’s not about the looks – it’s about how useful it is. Try playing with one of those apps that allow you to sketch and draw pictures. Quite difficult to create anything that will look decent and not like a masterpiece by a three-year-old, right? It’s because we cannot actually see where the screen is touched – the finger covers some area around.

Of course one must still reach for the wallet and take the card out, but at least it’s there and we don’t need to carry any additional items. Besides, imagine the possibilities! We start with a blank card, but why not turn it into a business card? Or a pocket calendar? Companies can even manage to connect such a gadget with, for example, loyalty program cards or even payment cards (pre-paid ones would probably be reasonable). I can even picture this being a sort of a pocket whiteboard – it’s quite often that I want to note something small (like a name or phone number).

There are lots of possibilities limited only by our own imagination. But I guess there’s one more question to be asked: why a separate card and not an add-on? It seems nicer to place a rubber or plastic stripe on one of the cards we already use, right? Perhaps yes, but imagine inserting this card into an ATM or a payment terminal. Removing the add-on every time when you want to use the card also doesn’t sound convenient.

This all sounds very exciting, but I cannot honestly say that I would use it. Probably in some cases it would be inconvenient (I don’t think I’d reach for the card in a crowded bus), but in other it might just be the thing. The idea has its potential, but it’s not one of those that are ready to go and sell themselves. It needs some “conception add-ons”, the small things that will make us excited and actually want to use it.

Are you a business looking for a payment processor?


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