Wearable payments are set for their breakout year

Last updated: 01 April 2015

Modern life seems ever busier: people are always rushing around trying to get through everything they need to do as fast as possible, so they can get back to what they really want to do. On any given day in a city almost anywhere in the world, people are running errands in between their busy schedules, and the last thing they want to do is put everything down to rummage through their bags looking for some cash, or get a credit or bank card out to get through the task before them. Cash, and even traditional credit card payments, are increasingly incongruous in a society increasingly defined by its digital interactions.

If you’ve been following our recent posts on Generation mBanking, you’ll know how demanding the younger generation is for modern, digital services when interacting with their financial services providers. Innovative banks and payment firms aiming to attract new and retain existing customers are looking at how payments can be simplified, and at how developments like mobile and contactless payments are seeing growing traction. Indeed, they need to do so before disruptive market entrants like Apple Watch and Apple Pay capture too many of their customers. By making the mechanism of making a payment or withdrawing cash frictionless, they make a wide variety of everyday activities that little bit easier, and less stressful.

This new technology is part of a wider trend where cashless payments are reaching a tipping point. In the UK, it is expected that payments using cards, contactless and digital platforms will exceed those made with notes and coins in a matter of days.

Spain’s Caixa Bank is a pioneer with contactless payments and launched its first wearable payment method last summer. They opted for wristband with a chip inside that stored customers’ details directly linked to their bank accounts. As it was one of the first wearable payment solutions, it was imperative that security was prioritized to ensure customer trust was maintained. Caixa Bank looked to Gemalto’s Optelio Contactless MiniTag as its encryption technology made it one of the most secure options on the market. Since launch the bank has already expanded its initial rollout and made the devices available in a range of different colors at all its branches.

Whilst Caixa Bank used a wristband for its wearable payments platform, the MiniTag isn’t limited to that, and we’re sure that we’ll soon see all sorts of new form factors that will take wearable payments to exciting new heights. And if the adoption speed of contactless cards is replicated in the wearables space, then this year could see a new form of fashion emerge – wearable payment haute couture.