Existing smartphone-based eWallets may have achieved the ultimate convenience, compressing bulky physical wallets into a nice, tidy digital space and enabling consumers to carry just one item when they leave the house.
However, for some, phone-based eWallets leave a lot of questions unanswered in terms of security, particularly as hacks and data breaches continue to leave more and more consumer data exposed. Phones are connected to the internet all the time, which could put the payment data they hold at greater risk.
Gino Pereira, CEO, NXT-ID said that’s why the startup is creating a standalone eVault that holds everything a wallet should hold, from payment cards to photo IDs, even membership cards, in a device the size of just five credit cards stacked on top of each other — and it only connects to the internet when necessary, making it much more difficult to hack.
Pereira said the multi-purpose device, currently nicknamed “Hendricks,” will be able to conduct contactless payments anywhere that NFC (near-field communication) is accepted — which, by 2020, will be everywhere. Hendricks will also be able to store personally identifiable information (PII) or passwords, he said.
The device will be protected by fingerprint security and possibly other biometric methods to be determined, said Pereira, so that even if a customer lost his device, no one else could access the payment credentials or PII it contained.
Hendricks will have a color screen, a battery that lasts three to seven days depending on usage (and can be recharged with a standard micro USB cable) and 1 megabyte of memory — which Pereira admits doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s more than enough to store 10 to 15 payment cards in addition to photo IDs and passwords.
Pereira said Hendricks was born from two factors: customer needs and the unfulfilled mission of NXT-ID’s first product ever, a personal vault for all of a consumer’s payment and identifying info that could be used anywhere. He said card networks were wary of the vault, and the introduction of chips soon made the product obsolete.
This time around, he said NXT-ID has been able to leverage the contactless payment expertise of sister startup FitPay, which powers tap-to-pay on Garmin’s smartwatches. The result has been a network-compliant product that duplicates the principles of NXT-ID’s earlier product in a manner that Pereira believes customers will find more interesting.
Look for the Hendricks debut in the second half of 2018.