May 7, 2015
The bPay band was developed by Barclaycard to enable anyone to use it, regardless of who they bank with. The band contains a smart chip and a small radio antenna that triggers a payment when it is swiped over a terminal, thus enabling NFC-based contactless payments. It has come to light that Barclaycard will eliminate the service on May 31st, as reported by The Register. The company will apparently come up with a replacement for bPay that is poised to be an improvement.
Barclaycard is ostensibly making some changes to its technology systems which would make the bPay band obsolete. The bPay service was rolled out last year to 10,000 users as part of a major promotion campaign. Users were able to load money on to the band from their own debit or credit card via the bPay website and then make purchases up to a value of £20 ($32) on a single item. They could top the band online or arrange for cash to be automatically loaded if the bPay balance fell below a set trigger point, say £5 ($8).
The bPay was launched last year primarily with the focus of targeting commuters on the London Underground which involved low-value transactions. When the bPay service ends, Barclaycard will refund the money left as part of the bPay balance back to customers. Currently, there are no revelations as to what kind of product/service would be replacing bPay. There are also no insights as to what technology Barclaycard will be bringing in that would make these bands worthless.
As of now, we can only hope that Barclaycard doesn’t shift its focus away from wearables. bPay had an ideal target user base which can be further increased with a better solution, and we expect that that is something on Barclaycard’s mind.
For now, we’re seeing some interesting payment technology advancements in the field of wearable devices. As the number of connected devices soar, the possibility of wearable payment technology suddenly becomes a reality. Wearable technology is only likely to grow since the sudden expansion of the so-called Internet of Things is transforming the way we think about connectivity. Smart bands can indeed be one of the most convenient and interesting ways of making payments, and we expect Barclaycard to believe the same.
The launch of the new service/product will clarify as to whether there would be an upgrade to bPay or a completely different service, eliminating the focus on wearables.