Some of the best wearable tech can do more than just show notifications, track fitness data, and relay the time.
A growing number of wearables can actually be used to make payments, whether that involves paying your bar tab, or checking out at the grocery store.
In fact, we predicted that more viable payment systems would crop up this year, as wearables grow in popularity.
Wouldn’t it be nice to grab a drink or two after your morning run without carrying your wallet? Imagine swiping your fitness tracker or smartwatch on an NFC-enabled payment strip and that’s that!
With platforms like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, bPay and Google Wallet gaining more traction it’s likely that this technology will become accepted in more stores and markets.
Not to mention, Mastercard – the credit company – is now backing tech from Ringly and Nymi.
Before long, people paying at the register with a wearable device will be commonplace.
It’s a remarkably convenient way to get things done because it eliminates the need to fumble through your wallet or purse to find the appropriate debit or credit card.
Most of the payment platforms – like Apple Pay and Google Wallet – allow you to store multiple payment sources under a single account and you can swap between them seamlessly, at the push of a button.
The Best Wearable Tech You Can Use to Pay Your Bill
Sadly, even some of the best wearable tech out there doesn’t have this technology embedded. So, how can you be sure that the device you’re buying will allow you to pay?
We’re going to help you out there by taking a closer look at the best wearable tech that you can pay your bill with.
The Jawbone UP4 actually remained under the radar because the UP3 garnered an incredible amount of buzz. That said, it’s nothing to scoff at. On top of all the fitness and health tracking features you’d expect from a Jawbone device, it also allows you to make payments with your American Express account.
In order to take advantage of the feature, you must first authenticate your American Express card through the Jawbone companion app on your smartphone. Once that has been settled, you can pay for your bill at a majority of retailers that accept American Express.
Of course, the place where you are shopping must accept – and have the proper equipment – to facilitate contactless payments. But the technology is becoming increasingly popular, so you’d be surprised how many places accept wearable payments.
UP4 contactless payment support is only available in the US currently.
What you might not be aware of, however, is that the Apple Watch is capable of making contactless payments at select retailers. This is thanks to an exclusive service called Apple Pay, which is currently live in the US and the UK.
The system calls for an iPhone and Apple Watch because the two work together to handle payments.
First, you add compatible credit and debit cards using your phone, and then you must verify your identity. You can also manage payment sources through the iPhone app.
When you’re ready, payments can then be made with a flick of your wrist via the Apple Watch. The watch will show a preview of the payment source you have selected, and will also let you know if the payment processed or was declined.
Once everything is set up, it’s a great way to pay your bill at participating retailers. Namely, because you don’t have to take out your wallet, or rummage through your purse.
The list of stores that accept Apple Pay continues to grow every day. Currently, there is a huge selection of brands including Best Buy, Disney, GameStop, McDonalds, Sports Authority, Staples, Subway, and many more. If you’d like to see the full list head on over to Apple’s site.
Samsung Gear S2
Samsung Pay was rolled out for their latest smartwatch products, the Gear S2 line.
All of the Gear S2 models include an embedded NFC or Near Field Communication chip which can be used to make contactless payments – this is the same tech used in the Apple Watch and other wearables on this list.
It works similar to other wearable payment systems. You add payment sources through a smartphone companion app and then actually make the payments with your watch. Currently, Samsung Pay is only available on a number of Android devices, but iOS support is supposedly on the way soon.
To use this service, just pick up on of Samsung’s Gear S2 models, like the Gear S2 Classic.
It might be a little while longer before the Nymi Band is in your hands, let alone accepted at most retailers. That’s because currently, the Canadian startup that developed the device is currently testing the technology for it.
Still, the Nymi Band is already backed by MasterCard – the major credit provider. That means, with the Nymi Band you can pay for your bills at any NFC-enabled register which accepts mobile payments using your MasterCard account.
In the near future, a pilot will be launching in the US and the UK which means we’ll get to see how the service works, and how many retailers support the platform.
One important feature – that’s actually pretty awesome – is that the Nymi Band is protected by biometric security. It measures your heartbeat patterns to detect whether or not it’s really you wearing the device, allowing your heartbeat to act as an authentication system.
That’s pretty amazing.
Anyway, head on over to Nymi for more info on their rad wearable tech.
Believe it or not, Sony actually has its own crowdfunding platform in Japan called First Flight. The Sony FES smartwatches were the first to appear on the platform, and the Sony Wena followed suit.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Sony Wena smartwatches is that they are absolutely gorgeous. The look more like traditional timepieces than a “smart” device with geeky-style aesthetics.
Sony’s Wena line focuses on three main elements – smartwatch notifications through vibration patterns and a seven-color, customizable LED on the band; activity and fitness tracking through the watch and an iOS companion app; and finally, an NFC chip designed to handle mobile contactless payments through the Japanese FeliCa payment system.
It’s the latter feature that we’re going to focus on here. FeliCa is a popular payment standard in Japan, similar to Barclaycard in the UK.
It’s entirely possible that Sony will bring the Wena stateside, but if it does it will need to work with mobile payment standards we use here (obviously). So, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.
Alibaba Pay Watch
Alibaba is a retail mainstay in China, and through a collaborative effort with FiiSmart – a Chinese wearable brand – they’ve created a contactless mobile payment system called the Alibaba Pay Watch.
Both of these Asian companies are looking to expand into the US and the UK in the near future, so it’s possible that we may see this watch available stateside. Until then, this one is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Still, it’s worth talking about here.
The Alibaba Pay Watch is powered by a forked (custom) version of Android called YunOS, which means it can do a bunch of other “smart” things too.
Alibaba’s mobile payment system is apparently used by 900 million users and counting if the company’s claims are true. So, this thing is definitely popular.
Best Wearable Tech with bPay Support
Barclaycard or bPay is a mobile standard – similar to Apple Pay or Google Pay/Wallet – that was created to standardize mobile payments. Because of that, there are several different wearables that take advantage of the bPay mobile payment service.
Furthermore, it’s likely that we will see many more wearables launch that utilizes this technology.
Lyle & Scott bPay Jacket
Take the Lyle & Scott bPay Jacket for example. It’s nothing more than a stylish jacket that includes an NFC chip embedded inside the right-hand sleeve. You can link the chip to your bPay account and pay for goods or services by swiping your right-hand over the payment system.
Jonathan Briggs, the innovation project manager at Lyle & Scott, explains his company’s motive for creating the jacket.
“We are proud to partner with bPay to launch the world’s first contactless payment jacket. The jacket can be used to pay at any contactless terminal for transactions up to £30, ultimately seizing the next step in satisfying the consumer’s need for flexibility and convenience.”
The jacket is about $229 USD (£150) and can be purchased locally from the Lyle & Scott flagship store located on Carnaby Street, London, or online.
One interesting fact that you might not know about Barclays bPay technology is that you can register a debit or credit card from any bank to use the service. You don’t actually have to be a Barclaycard subscriber to take advantage of the technology.
That info is especially useful if you get your hands on the bPay Band, that’s nothing more than a bracelet to be used for mobile contactless payments.
Since bPay is primarily a UK service, it makes sense that there are about 300,000 retailers in the UK that accept it. It’s not as popular over here in the US, but it’s still viable enough to mention on this list.
The bPay Band doesn’t do anything else, so if you’re looking for more of a universal smartwatch you might want to turn your attention elsewhere. However, if you want to get in on the contactless payment option without all the bells and whistles, the bPay Band is your best bet.
bPay Fob and Sticker
Ultimately, the key fob can be attached to your keychain and used like a payment dongle. The sticker, on the other hand, can be attached to just about anything, and used the same way.
There are many ways to use these contactless payment tools. For example, you could place the sticker under the rim of your hat. Then, when it’s time to make a payment, all you’d have to do is take off your hat and swipe it – or tap it – by the payment machine. If sticking it to a hat seems silly to you, then we’re sure you could come up with something better.
The point is, you can use these items to create your very own brand which mimics even some of the best wearable tech on this list – at least when it comes to mobile payments.
Check out the bPay site to demo the fob and sticker.