As discussed in Part 1 of this blog post, mobile NFC payments have some challenges. This post will look at how wearable payments work and how they can meet these challenges.

Enter wearables

In October 2015, Mastercard and NXP announced something that might have been the start of the solution: New Program that can Turn any Wearable into a Payment Device. Following this, several announcements have been done on wearable or IoT payment (like this, this, or this). While several of these are quite distant for the average consumer, the wearable device payments are already here.

Especially two major challenges can be met with wearable payments: iOS support and speed at checkout.

Payments using wearables basically works by provisioning the payment credentials onto the wearable device. This can be done during production, but only allows for simple, static, pre-paid solutions. However, by connecting the wearable to a mobile app and use the app as a proxy for credential provisioning, there are (almost) no limits to what cards possible to add. In addition, this allows for real-time lifecycle management of the credential stored on the device.

What does this mean?

  1. Remove the NFC block on iOS device. Even if your customer is using an iPhone, she/he can deploy payment cards on his wearable device through the open Bluetooth channel. During payment, she will use the NFC channel on his wearable, circumventing the close control Apple has put on their devices.
  2. Always at hand – literally. Paying using a wearable device, such as a smart watch, bracelet or even a ring, removes the need of finding the device in the first place. Tap your wrist or hand towards the payment terminal, and the purchase is performed within milliseconds. You can’t do it cooler – or faster!

Hype or future?

Obviously, payment through wearables has its advantages. The big question that remains whether it is only a hype, or if we actually will see people tapping their wrists to get their favorite sub on their way home from work.

Apple Pay through Apple Watch has been around for about three years. Even so, analytics report of a slow start. Similarly, Samsung Pay has been available on Samsung Gear devices since 2015. These solutions have had a limited list of supported Issuers, but as the list of supported Issuers is growing, the use is growing at high speed.

A user research conducted by Seqr showed that 61 % of all users wanted to pay with a wearable device. Furthermore, it showed that more than 70 % would have no worries about the security of such a solution.

MeaWallet has seen an increase in OEM vendors – well established as well as small start-ups – that reaches out to us to learn more about our offerings for wearable payments.

In summary, we see that wearable payments are coming, and we believe they are coming fast. We might be too far into 2017, but 2018 might prove to be the Year of Wearable Payments.

Do you want to learn more about wearable payments and what it can do for you? Click here to download fact sheet or leave us a message to have one of our sales representatives get in touch.