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Could a Pending Amazon Patent Doom Coin's All-in-One Payment Card?

In 2012, Amazon filed a patent application for a "dynamic payment card."

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

When a startup called Coin revealed its plans in November for a payment card that could store multiple credit, debit and loyalty card account info on one card, I called it “a new way to pay in stores that people might actually use.”

That said, the device, which is scheduled to be shipped to preorderers this summer, still faces a bunch of challenges: Will credit card companies such as MasterCard and Visa want their name on the front? How does the swipe-able card fit in with the planned transition in the U.S. to chip-and-PIN cards? Will merchants accept it in the face of heightened security risks?

Add one more potential hurdle to the list: In 2012, Amazon filed an application for a patent describing a “dynamic payment card” that is “programmable by a user in order to access one or more accounts from multiple financial institutions and/or other institutions … For example, the payment card may correspond to a credit card, a debit card, a gift card, and/or other card. In one embodiment, the payment card includes an account selection application that facilitates selection of one of the transaction accounts associated with the payment card.”

That should sound familiar to anyone who has preordered a Coin card because it’s essentially describing the core functionality of it.

The application was filed in March of 2012, but was just published online in September of 2013. It’s not clear whether the patent will be issued or what Amazon would even do with it if it were.

Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law wrote in an email to Re/code on Sunday night that “Amazon does not accept Bitcoin and we never comment on our future product roadmap.” I wrote back explaining that the patent application has nothing to do with bitcoin, but Law hasn’t responded yet.

So is Coin worried? Founder Kanishk Parashar isn’t saying. Reached by email on Sunday, he declined to comment on the Amazon patent application as well as the question of how Coin will protect the technology it’s creating.

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