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MasterCard’s Wearable Payments Breakthrough

wearable payments

MasterCard’s digital philosophy is that every device could be a commerce device. And, they’ve been pretty focused on bringing that to life over the last year – with watches, wearables, keychains, dresses, sunglasses, gloves, rings – and as we saw yesterday, even refrigerators.

And, that’s the intention of their latest partnership – one that they announced this morning (Jan. 6) with perhaps a very unlikely partner at first blush: Coin.

Coin is best known as the all-in-one connected card (credit, debit, gift, loyalty, membership cards) that consumers can use in place of the stack of cards they carry in their wallets. But its latest deal with MasterCard will bring commerce to the next generation of wearables by leveraging Coin’s patented technology platform that miniaturizes the payments technology needed to make wearables functional and interoperable.  

“The great thing about the MasterCard program is that we are adding payment functionality to items that consumers are already using – fitness bands, jewelry, clothing, watches,” said Sherri Haymond, Senior Vice President of Digital Payments for MasterCard. “This makes the products more useful for consumers and enhances the value device manufacturers can deliver to their customers. Coin complements that approach and enables us to reach an expanded set of device partners.”

As part of MasterCard’s Commerce for Every Device Program, which was launched in October, Coin’s partnership with MasterCard will give consumers a convenient and secure option for payments in any consumer gadget, accessory or wearable that might like to also double as a payment device. This also includes leveraging MasterCard’s Digital Enablement Express program to simplify the card onboarding and provisioning process. Express eliminates the need for device makers to go to each individual issuer to enable this technology.

As part of this partnership, Atlas Wearables, a fitness trackers designer, Moov, a personal fitness coach (on the wrist), and Omate, maker of fashionable smartwatches, are the first companies to work with MasterCard and Coin to integrate this payment technology into their products. Coin’s role will be to provide hardware and software technology that is integrated with MasterCard’s platform.

Coin’s Payment of Things platform is a turnkey solution to enable payments for the wearable/IoT industry. Leveraging Coin’s technology, device manufacturers will benefit from significantly reduced costs and time to market,” said Kanishk Parashar, CEO and Co-Founder of Coin. “MasterCard is our essential partner as we team up to enable the wearable domain that is projected to grow to an astounding $53 billion by 2019.”

And the best part, Parashar believes, is that accounts are portable between devices, so payment credentials can be applied to as many devices as they’d like to use them on.

In an interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster, Haymond and Parashar shared more about just why the duo paired up to power the next generation of connected devices that will continue MasterCard’s mission of making every device a commerce enabler. This means devices beyond what’s traditionally thought about in the wearables space (bands and watches) and looking toward things like gloves, sunglasses, rings, etc.

“MasterCard has done a really great job of looking ahead and seeing where the world is going,” Haymond said.

And that means bringing together companies across ecosystems in order to truly create what’s known as connected commerce, Haymond says.   

The payments space is incredibly complex, and only some of the large companies have had the ability to integrate with their tokenization services. So we decided there was an opportunity to provide a solution for other companies that don’t necessarily have the ability to tackle payments, both on the business and technology side of the fence,” Parashar said.

“Through this collaboration, what Coin has done is built a turnkey solution to enable payments on wearables that simplifies the incredibly complicated internals of the payment space. It’s a solution that saves our partners significant costs and time to market,” he continued.

And that solution has done so in a way that miniaturizes technology, reduces power consumption (a premium in wearables, Parashar points out). And it enables consumers to use those wearables to manage cards, too, in ways that reduce friction and make payments easier. And it allows for device manufactures and designers to enable payments without having to be payment experts themselves.

MasterCard believes that the partnership with Coin was a natural fit because of their obvious expertise in the space.

“This is an example of technology that we could leverage to really make every device a commerce device,” Haymond said.

What that does, of course, is open up new doors for use cases for wearables. Building new use cases in the digital payments space has been particularly important for driving up consumer adoption, and convincing them why they should look at all of their devices as payments and commerce tools.

“Our mission has always been bigger than the card. This is an expansion. We’re building upon our expertise here and trying to make a bigger impact in the space,” Parashar said.

And that impact is?

“I actually do think it will spur a huge new wave of innovation. That’s certainly what we’re hoping for,” he noted in the interview. This also means, he later explained, creating an “ecosystem with these devices that can actually help move the needle for digital payments.”

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