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This wallet sorts coins from notes

Three Singapore students raise more than $280,000 through crowdfunding for their wallet, which separates coins and notes

Three industrial design students from the National University of Singapore have created a wallet that separates coins and notes for you.

You simply dump a handful of cash into the compartment typically used for notes and with a shake, the coins are sorted into a separate pocket. This almost magical solution KIN offers has made it a runaway success on global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

Wrapping up a month-long campaign on the website on Thursday night, the students raised $280,468 - 70 times their $4,000 goal. The initial asking sum was achieved in under an hour and the $30,000 mark was reached within a day.

The brains behind the wallet are Ms Lim Li Xue, 23; Ms Cheryl Ho, 21; and Ms Ng Ai Ling, 20, who are in their final, third and second years respectively in the division of industrial design. They had to create a product to launch on Kickstarter for one of their modules.

Ms Ng says: "We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw how quickly we reached our goal."

They were inspired to create KIN from observing how people fumble with coins and notes while paying for things.

Ms Lim says: "We noticed that when one is standing in line, the person at the counter might take longer than expected because he has to sort out his change to put into his wallet. That can hold up the line or make the person drop his coins because he feels pressured to rush.

"We then thought, why not put them together and change the design of the wallet so that it does the sorting for the user."

They went through more than 50 versions using different mechanisms and materials before coming up with the current prototype.

So how does the wallet work? Ms Lim can reveal only that there is an inner mechanism sewn in a way that prevents the backflow of coins into the main compartment or out of the wallet. The trio would not say more as they are working to get the wallet's design patented.

Since the Kickstarter project wrapped up, they have been consulting with a manufacturer and hope to ship the product to backers next July.

The wallet will retail at US$30 (S$43) to US$40 and is 88mm by 115mm when folded. It can hold up to nine cards and comes in five colours. It is made of acrylic canvas, but that may change as they are still refining the design.

Mr Donn Koh, the lecturer in charge of the project, knew that the wallet would be a hit once the three consulted him on it.

"It's an age-old problem and there have been many attempts to fix it over the years," he says.

On Kickstarter, the wallet has attracted about 7,000 backers from all over the world, including the United States, Japan and Germany.

Just more than half the backers are Singaporeans.

"The best part for us is reading all the heart-warming and encouraging comments from Singaporeans who are proud of us for creating the product," Ms Ng says.

One of them is Ms Lim Su-en, 21, who is studying in a British university. "Even some of my classmates who aren't Singaporean were talking about it. It's an eye-opener that Singaporeans can put up amazing products that are not just IT-based."

The creators have registered the company KIN Studio, which sells the wallet, and are already thinking about their next product. "We want to continue creating products like this and focus on it as a career. This is our passion," Ms Lim says.

•For more information, go to kinstudio.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 04, 2016, with the headline 'This wallet sorts cash'. Print Edition | Subscribe