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All-in-one credit card

Want to streamline those bulky credit cards? iCache has a way to keep your wallet thinner while keeping your buying power just as strong.

By Michal Lev-Ram, Business 2.0 Magazine writer

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Sick of your wallet bulging with plastic? So are a lot of other consumers who carry, on average, nine credit, debit and loyalty cards, according to financial research firm Celent. Tech entrepreneur Jonathan Ramaci spied an opportunity in those overstuffed wallets to sell a slim, secure gadget that could mimic all of the cards.

The $99 device, called the iCache, is as thin as a Razr cell phone. It will go on sale early next year, and Ramaci hopes to sell 7 million units by the end of 2009. "Consumers have been walking around with 40-year-old technology in their pockets," says Ramaci, founder and CEO of iCache, based in Cambridge, Mass. "It just didn't make sense."


Here's how it works. Users register their cards on the company Web site and upload the information into the iCache. When they want to use it, they activate the device with a fingerprint on its biometric strip, scroll through a list of cards on its screen and choose one. Out pops a plastic card with a magnetic stripe, temporarily loaded with the chosen card's data. Just swipe the card and pop it back into the iCache. After one use, the information on the card disappears. The device even works with loyalty cards, such as those handed out by supermarkets.

The iCache has the market to itself - for now. Coming in the next five years is NFC, or near field communication, a system for paying with cell phones and chip-enabled credit cards. "Once NFC takes off, iCache is going to have to adapt to that market," says Red Gillen, a senior analyst at Celent. Ramaci is already planning to license his software to cell-phone manufacturers - allowing a phone's NFC chip to mimic all the cards in your wallet, just like the iCache.  Top of page

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