Smartwatches are getting smarter. Instead of linking to the user’s phone to power GPS, fitness tracking, music and payments, this one houses it all in the wearable itself so that runners and athletes can take the device on the go and leave the bulky phone at home.
Startups FitPay and NXT-ID, which collaborated on the watch’s payments capability, spent time at the International Consumer Electronics Show networking and leading runs with conference guests who were interested in the new Forerunner 645 device from Garmin — the second device to feature NXT-ID and FitPay’s Garmin Pay platform.
Chris Orlando, VP Communications and Investor Relations at NXT-ID Inc., said the vision was to create an ideal device for athletes and runners that allows them to leave home with nothing but their watch and wireless headphones. The new watch holds 500 songs — more than enough to keep athletes amped even through the toughest of runs.
Of course, the applications are broader than just running. Users who love to bike, lift weights or ski, for instance, can also benefit from streamlining the devices they have to carry and from having easy access to payments if they find themselves in need of a bottled water, protein shake or Waffle Cabin fix.
In addition to the new device, Orlando shared that NXT-ID is now working on a cryptocurrency capability for the FitPay platform, which would allow crypto holders to use the value of their cryptocurrency to fund a contactless payment through their device.
Orlando explained that the user’s existing crypto wallet could be used to fund a general purpose reloadable account (GPR). Connecting that GPR to a device would enable crypto holders to spend their digital currency in real-world situations as easily as if it were a credit or debit card, Orlando said.
The process does not need to require any special technology integrations on the retailer’s part, said Orlando, nor would the devices themselves actually store cryptocurrency value — they would simply exchange it out of the wallet and turn it into a currency that can be accepted by retailers.
The currency exchange would happen through the FitPay platform so that merchants would simply be accepting a payment in U.S. dollars, indistinguishable from any other payment.
Orlando said the crypto capability will be an extension of FitPay and NXT-ID’s existing GPR capabilities for prepaid scenarios. The startups aim to launch the platform by mid-2018, he said.