Startup Check-In

FitPay: The Market Is Ripe For Pays

Consumers are getting comfortable with the idea of interactive contactless payments. As with any new technology, concerns around usage and security have abounded, but alternative payment devices such as wearables are now becoming more accepted and less feared, according to Michael Orlando, COO, NXT-ID and president of sister startup FitPay.

“We’ve seen 43 percent growth in device activation over the past two weeks,” Orlando reported. “There’s been a hunger on behalf of issuers and networks to offer alternatives to consumers in terms of how they can onboard their payment instruments and interact with them.”

Of course, demand is only one factor when it comes to growth. Supply must also be in place, and Orlando said that’s what’s happening now as the contactless payment platform by FitPay and NXT-ID grows across devices, banks and geographies.

In terms of devices, Orlando said the payment platform that FitPay and NXT-ID power for Garmin is now on seven Garmin smartwatches, including four new devices that were released within the past month. That’s been one major reason for the recent boom of device activations, he said.

New devices make the Garmin Pay function available across more product categories and price points, which he said is driving the adoption curve across wallets by honing in on populations of consumers who are focused on specific activities and how they want to interact with their device during those activities.

In terms of banks, Orlando said the platform has grown from five banks in three geographies at its November 2017 launch to nearly 140 banks across more than 20 countries half a year later. It’s also grown its ecosystem, recently launching with Chase – the second-largest card issuer in the U.S.

That, Orlando said, creates greater accessibility for the population, just like introducing the function to a wider variety of devices. Together, these developments have given FitPay and NXT-ID a “huge lift” over the past three weeks, he said.

Finally, in terms of geographies, Orlando reported two significant launches. In Australia, Garmin and the sister startups are working with Westpac, the fourth-largest bank in the country. In Germany, Garmin has become the first major pay wallet to launch with national bank PayCenter.

Orlando noted that Germany is a top-five market for Garmin in device sales, and it’s a ripe market because major players like Apple, Google, Android and Samsung have not yet launched there – meaning there’s no other device-accessible wallet in the country.

“Consumers are approaching an inflection point, and banks are trying to get people to use credit and debit instruments in new ways,” Orlando concluded. “That opens up an opportunity for us to move quickly into new devices and markets.”

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