How much do smartphone users care about wearables? Apple, Google and Samsung hope a ton, and they are pulling out all of the stops to not only get consumers to buy, keep and use them but also use them to make payments.
Here’s a look at who’s doing what and how those wearable payments players are pitching their products to consumers.
First, let's start with the most familiar names out there.
Apple's highly-anticipated entrance into the wearables market came with a bit of a buzzkill when consumers learned it would take months after the initial launch to actually get their hands on the device. And unlike the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple took a different approach in how it marketed the Apple Watch — focusing on a variety of features (like the heartbeat, etc.) rather than the convenience of paying with Apple Pay.
We know that Apple Watch has sold nearly 3 million watches since its April debut — but we're still wondering whether that’s a lot or a little. When compared to the 74.5 million iPhones sold so far in 2015, it seems like a little.
Either way, here's how Apple pitched its latest wearable into the market.
Samsung's smartwatch launched long before Apple’s but it didn't garner much attention from the payments community until recently when it was revealed that Samsung's next wearable will come equipped to use Samsung Pay. That launch was pushed to September to align with the rollout of its latest smartphone and wearable device.
What Samsung is hoping gives it an edge in the wearable payments space is very much the same reason it hopes it has an edge in the mobile payments space when it launches: LoopPay, a mobile commerce platform that uses its Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) patented technology to turn existing mag stripe readers into mobile contactless receivers. That makes LoopPay digital wallet users eligible to use the option at more than 90 percent of merchant establishments today. LoopPay was acquired by Samsung in February 2015.
To better show how Samsung pitches its wearable, The Samsung Gear S, we'll let the video speak for itself.
Barclays wins the prize for the most buzz this week with the launch of its new wearable payment devices, which includes a wristband, fob and sticker — all of which can be used in the U.K. for contactless payments.
All – and only about payments, bPay — allow users to sync the wearable with their Barclays' bank account. This means bPay customers can view their account balances and manage funds right from the wearable.
This official launch follows Barclays' test of its first-generation contactless wristbands. The new bPay devices rollout in the U.K. July 1. The second-generation bPay will provide new features with a redesigned online servicing and mobile app to download. The wristband, which can pay for everyday life essentials such as bus journeys, coffees, sandwiches or drinks, can be used in over 300,000 locations across the U.K. for up to £20.
For those less familiar with the bPay brand, here's how Barclays has chosen to educate consumers about the product.
Amex and Jawbone
Even the exercise-focused wearables want a piece of payments. At least that's the case for Jawbone, which recently tapped into American Express to payment-enable its wearable product, the UP4 — which pairs with both Android and iOS devices.
The official launch date for the device hasn't been released, but reports speculate sometime this summer. Features of the UP4 include the typical fitness band that track a user's everyday movements, but also contactless payments using American Express cards at contactless payment locations. The bank enables NFC payments, but it doesn't have a display on it, so that's where the pairing with a smartphone comes into play so transactions can be checked.
So how do Amex and Jawbone pitch payments? Pretty much the same way Jawbone pitches its fitness aspect, but now with the added convenience to show that its latest wearable can truly be the one-stop shop for tracking fitness and payments — an interesting combination itself.
Here's how that vision was pitched by the companies.
It probably was no shock when Swatch, the mass-watch manufacturer announced that it, too, wanted a piece of the wearables game – and that their foray into wearables would include payments.
The latest reports indicate that Swatch will rollout its smartwatch first in Switzerland in late August, but it has plans to rapidly expand. Reports also suggest that Swatch already has an existing payments deal in China, its largest market, with China UnionPay. Swatch may also launch two types of wearables, one specifically with NFC ability that would be compatible with both Android and Windows phones.
While Swatch hasn't specifically released a commercial pitching its smartwatch in the U.S., there's been plenty of pitches explaining the upcoming Swatch Touch Zero One Smartwatch.
While there hasn't been much buzz about Alipay wearables since its initial April announcement, it's clear that the Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial plans to launch a wearable payment technology option through a partnership with smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi. The two companies announced in early April that they will collaborate to develop wearable payment gadgets. Ant Financial will aim to link its Alipay Wallet mobile app with Xiaomi’s existing wearable technology, the Mi Band fitness bracelets.
This link will be available for Alipay users on the Google Android operating system. A version available for iPhone will be available later on, the firms said at the time.
Like Swatch, there's no official video promoting any upcoming launch of smartwatch, but Alibaba has been keen to promote its Alipay option through commercials like this one.
Wearables: Fad Or Future Of Payments?
As is typical with most projections of new technologies, the most recent reports tout 2015 as the year that “wearables really take off.” Of course, we’ve been hearing that now for the last decade about mobile payments . . .
One such forecast from Tractica estimates that the wearables market will grow to 187.2 million units by 2020, resulting in a 34 percent growth rate for wearable devices over the 17 million units sold in 2013.
Smartwatches, they predict, will outpace fitness trackers during the same five-year time period studied.
These stats don’t count the drawers filled with wearables that are purchased, used for a little while and then set aside after the passing fancy has worn off. It’s the “getting past the passing fancy” part of wearables that the players – big and small, known and unknown — have to overcome.
Why Wearables Matter For Payments And Commerce: 12 Stats That Show The Impact
PowerReviews recently released its latest report on wearables, that is bullish on their future to retailers. Wearables, they profess, are more than a passing fancy.
Here are the 12 facts that we’ve assembled from that report that they hope will convince retailers that wearables have a future past “passing fancy.”