At CES 2015, a new device called the Wocket caught my eye. It offered a way to secure credit card information and to downsize your wallet by not having to carry multiple credit cards. Further it seemed simple enough to set up and operate so as to be usable by many of my more technology challenged senior friends.
So what is the Wocket? This simple and well-made device is a smart wallet where you can electronically store your credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, passwords and other secure notes. After seeing the Wocket demonstrated at CES 2015 by its maker NXT-ID, Inc., I signed up to do a review of it and recently was sent one to review.
The Wocket comes smartly packaged in well designed box and includes the Wocket device, the Wocket card with your name on it, a card reader, an accessory wallet for holding the Wocket and card, and a charging cable. After unpacking the component parts, the first task is to charge the Wocket through any USB port or charging device. I left mine plugged in and when I checked back in two hours, the device was fully charged. I suspect it charged much sooner than the two hours I had left it plugged in.
While charging your Wocket you can download the app for your smartphone from your either your iOS or Android app store. While this app is not necessary for using the Wocket, the app is the method to manage updates to the firmware for your device. After my device was charged I used this app to easily carryout a firmware update.
Entering your cards into the Wocket is also incredibly easy. You attach the card reader to the Wocket and then swipe your cards to enter them into the device. After swiping the card, you can then use the touchpad to provide a short description of your card. There are three lines on which you can enter data. There is room to enter up to 8 credit cards and 8 debit cards.
In addition to storing credit and debit cards, you can also store loyalty cards and other cards you may have that have a swipe stripe on them. For cards that do not have a swipe strip, you can enter them into the device manually.
All of the set up steps are clearly described in the Quick Start Guide. This was one of the easiest devices I have ever set up. All of the steps worked flawlessly and there was no frustration over the process.
Set-up Rating: I give the Wocket a full 10 out of 10 rating in terms of set up. Anyone who can read and follow directions will have no problem setting this device up. You do not have to be a technological wizard to have success in getting your Wocket ready to go and use.
Using the Wocket
To use the Wocket you hold down the one button on the front to turn it on. The first screen is one that asks you to enter your PIN number. The establishment of a PIN number is done in the setup process. The use of a unique PIN number serves to protect the contents of your Wocket if you should lose it. After entering your PIN, you can then choose the card you want to use. Once you select the card you want it then programs your Wocket card with that card’s information. You then remove the card from the holder and swipe it as you would any credit card. If you then want to use a different credit or debit card for your next purchase you then merely select it and wait until that card has been programmed onto the Wocket card and then use it as you would regularly.
Again this whole process takes no more than seconds and is very easy to carry out. The bottom line is that the Wocket not only easy to set up, but it is also very easy to use.
The downside of the Wocket is whether the specific card reader of the merchant or vendor you are going to can read the Wocket card. My first uses of the Wocket were using either one of my credit or debit cards at Walgreens. I had no problem checking out and the Wocket worked perfectly in their card reader. My next use was paying for a visit to the dentist and their reader refused to accept the Wocket card. Each time it was swiped it gave a processing error message. This was for three of my four credit cards that I tried to use. Buying groceries at Vons was also a success as was paying for prescriptions at CVS. A trip to Wal-Mart came next and their devices refused to accept the Wocket card for either my debit or credit cards. Their card reading and swiping device said that I had to put the card in the card reader as it recognized that the card came with one of the new EMV chip equipped cards. Since there is no chip, the card reader will not accept the card. Some of the problems seem to rest with how a vendor programs their card readers and swipe machines. Some will recognize the card as chip enabled, but let you use the card via the swipe reader. This is not the case with Wal-Mart. After Wal-Mart I stopped at my local Chevron station to fill up with gas. Again I found that the pump card reader would not read the card. Last, I found that the Wocket card would not work in Bank of America ATMs as they employ an ATM system that pulls the card entirely into the ATM machine. At the end of my shopping experience with the Wocket card, I realized about a 70% acceptance rate.
During a telephone interview with Gino Pereira, President and CEO of NXT-ID on November 16, 2015 he acknowledged the challenges of developing this product in a changing environment for credit and debit cards. He indicated that they are looking at how they might incorporate EMV chip technology into the Wocket. Also, they are looking at how they might incorporate NFS payment technology into the Wocket. This would make the device similar to how one uses Android Pay or Apple Pay. Gino reflected that at the present time they are shooting for an 80% acceptance rate and consider that a good benchmark of acceptance. I also found exciting that Gino reported they were working on a voice recognition system to replace having to type in a PIN to activate the device. This feature would be especially wonderful for seniors with arthritic fingers that do not do so well on small touchscreen keypads.
I am really impressed with the ease of set up and use of this device that has been designed to provide you with greater security in the use of your debit and credit cards. The ability to use just the Wocket card in place of carrying multiple cards makes this a most worthwhile device. The biggest drawback is learning where it will work or not work. Until you figure this out you will need to carry both the Wocket and at least one other regular credit or debit card. This makes an 80% acceptance rate acceptable for being in one’s own local area. I would be very hesitant at this time to travel with the Wocket at this point, as I would never know in a new locale where it would work or not. Thus, I would feel more secure when traveling to carry all of my credit cards in my wallet.
I was also impressed with the willingness of Gino Pereira, President and CEO of NXT-ID to talk with me by telephone. He conveyed a sense of dedication and excitement about this product and a desire to continue working on it and improving its usability. This kind of leadership bodes well both for the product and the company.
The inclusion of either EMV and/or NFC technology into the device would be highly desirable and greatly increase the utility and acceptance of it at a wider range of merchants. At a retail price of $179 I will leave it to you as to whether you feel an 80% acceptance rate makes this worthwhile for you.
Overall Rating: 6 out of 10 rating based largely on usability. At this point I just would not have the confidence of being able to use the Wocket without having to also carry other credit cards or an NFC enabled smartphone. The inclusion of NFC capability for the Wocket would make it far more reliable to carry.
Stephen C. Anderson