Don’t be TOO clever with your UX designs – Why I cancelled my Coin

I was excited when Coin announced their campaign. I love technology, and this is a great example of innovation being used to make life easier. I have several credit cards, it’s good for your credit score, and keeping track of them is a pain and risky. I’d rather keep them safely at home and use secure device out in the wild.

When I first received the notification to download the app I set it up. I had a little trouble setting up the Tap Code. I had a little musical training growing up, but that was a long time ago, and I never got around to learning Morse Code. I finally entered a code that was acceptable, but how do you write that down?

Months later I saw that Coin was starting to ship so I tried to sign into my app to see when mine would come. I’d been waiting for it for a while and was excited.

Tap Code: Damn. What was it again?

I went to reset it, had trouble getting something complicated enough that was acceptable. Again. This time I tried noting it down in 1Password with dashes and dots.

Later that day I decided to try signing in again. Even with the dashes and dots I couldn’t sign into the app.

I applaud them for trying something new, but at that point I was starting to get concerned about ever being able to use my Coin. So I looked through the app, no there is no alternative to using the Tap Code.

At that point I wrote to them asking them if there are plans for an alternative for people like me who can’t seem to get their innovative password alternative working. The email I received in response, I felt, was patronizing. It explained how to set up the Tap Code, and made me feel like an idiot. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they’ve had a bunch of people who couldn’t set it up, maybe due to my frustration I was reading into the tone of the email. The person clearly didn’t read my complaint and sent me an answer explaining what they _thought_I was asking about.

Maybe I should learn Morse Code, but that wasn’t even the issue, I couldn’t get it working even after I had written down my code. I responded asking if they have plans integrating an alternative for people like me, and no they didn’t . So I requested a refund.

With innovations, it’s important to make sure they work well, if you want people to use them. If your innovation is truly unique and different, It’s also important to make sure there are alternatives, if you want your users to be comfortable enough to try your innovation out.

Even Apple had a password fallback when they first implemented the fingerprint reader. Now the password fallback is gone, but that was there for the first year+, until they ironed out all the details.

In addition to being concerned about being able to use my coin at all, I was just as concerned about their approach to UX. I’m not an average user, and I couldn’t use their technology effectively. If they’re not responsive nor thoughtful about THIS innovation, what other aspects of their system and security are they NOT thinking through?

At least I got my money back, but I’m disappointed. I wanted to use their tech.

I don’t know how many people they testing this concept with. I couldn’t find many articles about the security benefits of tap codes over pins. Historically Tap Codes are interesting, but they’re for communicating, not for identity. I think it’s a real shame that their approach is bullheaded and unthoughtful.