April 21, 2015
It is amazing to see the advancement of technology to a level where a payment is done via a fitness band. Jawbone’s UP4 lets users pay for goods and services by just tapping their fitness band on the payment device. Jawbone is the first company to include mobile payment capabilities inside a fitness band. Apple Watch also has the NFC payments feature with Apple Pay, but it operates primarily as a smartwatch.
American Express has enabled this service that allows the cardholder to use it by linking up their Amex card with the ‘UP’ app, Amex sends a token which is used to represent the user’s card information without actually storing the actual information on the device. American Express, Mastercard and Visa have also partnered with Apple Watch to provide the NFC payment facility.
Jawbone’s UP4 device performs all the advanced health tracking functions such as monitoring the heart rate, hydration levels, sleep rate, skin and atmospheric temperatures along with a new feature added to it - NFC payments courtesy of American Express. The strap of the fitness band is embedded with an NFC chip which enables payment with a tap on the Amex compatible NFC terminal. If the device is lost or stolen, the Amex card can be disconnected through the phone app. The battery life of Jawbone UP4 will last a week.
Other NFC enabled wearable payment devices in the world:
Barclaycard in UK, has launched its bPay bands with the sole purpose of NFC payments, where users can add money through the Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card, and use the bPay band to make payments of up to £20 at any contactless POS terminal.
La Caxia bank in Spain has already launched its Visa wrist bands which can be used to make contactless payments at more than 300,000 businesses across Spain. As an added feature, the wristband also connects to an app that keeps track of the expenses and the remaining balance.
German payments technology provider, Wirecard, has gone one step further and developed a wearable wristband that allows a user to make a payment using host card emulation (HCE) at any contactless POS terminal. Wirecard’s wristband can be used to make payments after downloading payment tokens from the user’s smartphone. Tokens can be preloaded and held on the wristband so that the payments can be completed even when the phone is offline.
Optus, an Australian mobile network has recently displayed a prototype watch that can be used to make contactless payments as an extension of its Cash by Optus prepaid NFC payment app. The network also says that it has developed wearable NFC payment solutions which include a wristband. Cash by Optus wearables are planned for release later this year.
Singapore based Watchdata Technologies has launched its wearable payments device, Sharkey, available as a smartwatch and a wristband that supports NFC payments. It can be connected to the Android or iOS mobile terminal on the phone via Bluetooth, and can be used to make payments. They use an Infineon secure element, designed for wearable devices, in their products. In addition, Sharkey has call, message, and task reminder functions with its G-Sensor.