Swatch Ties up With Visa to Enable NFC Payments

Swatch SA and Visa Inc., along with Visa Europe, have signed an agreement providing eligible Visa cardholders in the US, Switzerland and Brazil the ability to tap and pay with Swatch’s forthcoming pay-by-the-wrist watch Swatch Bellamy. Scheduled to launch in early 2016, Swatch Bellamy can be used globally, in any location where contactless, NFC-based (near-field communications) Visa payments are accepted.

The Bellamy watch is named after American writer Edward Bellamy, who in the 19th century envisioned a utopian world in which cash will be replaced by credit/debit cards; Bellamy was the first to write about such cards, 40 years before anyone else did.

Contactless payment systems are devices that use radio-frequency identification (RFID) or near field communication (NFC) to make secure payments. Contactless payments have been around since 1997, mobile being one of the early adopters. Since then, major players in the industry have begun adopting this technology considering the amount of effort and resources that have been saved.

The new Swatch Bellamy watches have a built-in NFC chip hidden under the dial. Like a prepaid bank card, a Swatch Bellamy watch enables users to pay for items using merchants' contactless POS terminals.

Swatch Bellamy is scheduled to be initially available in early 2016 in the US, Switzerland and Brazil. Swatch Bellamy was first presented in China in October 2015.

According to a recent report from Tractica, wearable payment transaction volume will grow from $3.1 billion in 2015 to $501 billion worldwide by 2020. The market intelligence firm anticipates that in five years, wearable payments will represent approximately 20% of the total mobile proximity transaction volume and about 1% of total cashless transactions in retail.

Samsung Pay, Alipay, bPay, Apple Pay and UnionPay have been some of the payment systems associated with the latest wearables. Swatch is the new player in this domain.

If we talk about the contactless payments market in Europe, the figure clearly indicates that it is the right time for new players to grab the opportunity. Contactless payments in the UK are on their way up with impressive usage statistics. According to Visa Europe, there are now almost 70 million contactless cards in circulation in the UK, and halfway through 2015, contactless spending is already outstripping the amount spent during the whole of 2014. Indeed, in June of this year, £567 million was spent using these cards compared to £287 million in January.

Retailers are eager to meet consumer demand for contactless payment, and contactless point-of-sale terminals are becoming ever more commonplace. We’ll see contactless acceptance continue to expand as NFC-enabled mobile and wearable devices continue to grow in popularity.

About Visa Inc.:

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. It operates one of the world’s most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, pay ahead of time with prepaid or pay later with credit products. For more information, click here.

About Visa Europe:

Visa Europe is a payments technology business owned and operated by member banks and other payment service providers from 38 countries. Its members are responsible for issuing cards, signing up retailers and deciding cardholder and retailer fees. Visa Europe is the largest transaction processor in Europe, responsible for processing more than 18 billion transactions annually. There are more than 500 million Visa cards in Europe, and €1 in every €6 spent in Europe is on a Visa card. Since 2004, Visa Europe has been operating independently of Visa Inc. and incorporated in the UK, with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual license in Europe. Both companies work in partnership to enable global Visa payments in more than 200 countries and territories. For more information, click here.