Stratos Card to Stretch Mobile Payment Industry

By Joyce Deuley

We recently released our fourth issue of The Connected Conversation, which dealt with current trends and happenings within the POS/Retail industry. In it, we covered the breadth of the market, looking at innovative payments, industry challenges, as well as what to expect—But I didn’t expect to stumble across Stratos.

Searching through my newsfeed yesterday, I found an article on Stratos, a mobile payment card solution provider, and its unique card. This battery-powered, Bluetooth-enabled card allows users to load multiple accounts onto an application and manage the card via their smartphones, selecting which card they'd like to use with a push of a button. With as many credit card offers as I receive in the mail, I could probably go swimming in the amount of paper advertisements I get each week, and let's not even discuss juggling the few cards (debit or otherwise) I have to keep track of—moving in and out of jeans, purses, and work bags, etc. Having a single card that I can use for multiple payment types and the ability to manage those accounts via my ever-present smartphone is a godsend. 

In addition to Stratos’ ability to host up to four different types of credit accounts on file through their mobile app, the tactile way to “wake” up the card through tapping presents a unique experience for the user. Users can step up to a register, wake up the card by tapping it on the counter, establishing a direct link to the user’s smartphone, select which payment card they’d prefer by pressing one of the card's buttons, and then swipe the card like a normal, magstripe transaction. The Stratos card can even be used in an ATM just like traditional cards. 

This type of payment is flexible, manageable, and tactile, but with rising security concerns and the fact that the Stratos card doesn’t offer chip-enabled security options under the looming fate of the EMV Liability Shift that will occur in October is disappointing. Additionally, since the card is managed through the application, how can the Stratos card even provide unique authentication for those dedicated cards? Would that mean that Stratos would have to work directly with issuers in order to provide users with unique chip-enabled Stratos cards that are directly tied to their various lines of credit. It seems a bit murky to me.

I think it’s a great concept overall that could flatten out my wallet and provide me with a single location and way to manage the different types of payment I have with me on a regular basis, but the integrative supportive technologies and services have yet to be addressed. To be fair to Stratos, they’re still too new to have fully fleshed out these incidentals, but even so—the fact that the Stratos card is now on backorder, the user-desire is there for these types of mobile payment options. If Stratos can figure out authentication for multiple accounts in one single card, perhaps they can even branch out into personal identification services—for instance, tie-in drivers’ licenses, health payment cards, etc. This type of payment technology could certainly disrupt the mobile payment market and push innovation for more integrated and flexible payment and identification solutions.