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Airtel and Noise Launch Smartwatch That Enables Contactless Payments

Airtel, Noise Debut Smartwatch Enabling Contactless Payments

India’s Airtel Payments Bank partnered with smartwatch company Noise to launch a smartwatch that enables users to tap to pay.

The Payments Bank Smartwatch enables hassle-free payments, Airtel Payments Bank said in a Tuesday (March 19) post and video on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The smartwatch enables contactless payments by tapping the strap on the point-of-sale machine, according to a page devoted to the watch on Noise’s website.

Users can activate the watch by using the Airtel Thanks app to link it to their bank account, The Economic Times reported Tuesday.

The tap-to-pay functionality is powered by near-field communication chips and the Mastercard network, according to the report.

“By integrating contactless payment capabilities into wearable technology, we empower customers with greater freedom and flexibility in their daily transactions,” Ganesh Ananthanarayanan, chief operating officer at Airtel Payments Bank, said in the report. “This smartwatch is the first wearable device the bank has launched.”

PYMNTS Intelligence found that India’s economy is fully transitioning to digital. For example, digital wallets have become the preferred payment method for 55% of retail purchases in the country, according to the PYMNTS Intelligence study “2023 Global Digital Shopping Index: India Edition.”

The report also found that millennials, bridge millennials and Generation Z shoppers in India are connected consumers who use an average of 17 digital shopping and payment features.

In the United States, PYMNTS Intelligence found that smartwatches have surged in popularity among millennials and bridge millennials, displacing voice-controlled assistants as the sixth most commonly owned connected device among this demographic.

Today, 33% of consumers own a smartwatch, up from 23% in 2020, according to “How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers.”

Contactless payments have also been growing in popularity, with Mastercard Chief Financial Officer Sachin Mehra saying during an October earnings call that card-present growth across overall spending was marked by increases in contactless penetration and that “contactless now represents over 60% of all in-person switched purchase transactions.”

Speed and convenience remain key selling points for contactless payments, PYMNTS reported at the time.