Swatch watches to get NFC chips for wireless Visa payments in 2016

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Swatch partners with Visa to bring NFC payments to its analog smartwatch.

It’s a simple-looking analog timepiece, without an LED screen, mobile OS or computational brain—but it does contain an NFC chip that will allow you to make contactless payments using the otherwise dumb device. Swatch has already signed an agreement with China’s only domestic bank card company, the state-run UnionPay, but has now struck a deal with Visa to bring the Bellamy’s “pay-by-the-wrist” function to the the US, Brazil, and Switzerland.

However, Swatch doesn’t explains exactly how it will work, nor whether it links directly with a bank account, merely referring to it as “like a prepaid bankcard.” Indeed, without some of the other sensors aboard a smartwatch, some people might worry about how secure the device is—and Swatch doesn’t offer any details just yet about authentication. Although US prices are still unknown, the watch will sell for 580 yuan in China (around $91) — comfortably below the Apple Watch’s starting price of $349 and cheaper than other, slightly less expensive offerings from Samsung, Motorola, and LG. The Bellamy’s inclusion of NFC payments is relatively rare (the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Gear S2 also have this feature), and the device has the advantage of a long battery life, with Swatch saying users “can expect the usual battery life of a Swatch.” However, it’s less clear how secure payments on the Bellamy are without additional sensors or connectivity. Adding a little everyday smart to an otherwise normal-looking watch seems like a nice idea for those people that don’t necessarily want a full-on smartwatch strapped to their wrist. Swatch says the the device functions like a “prepaid bankcard,” but hasn’t explained what — if any —authentication methods are in place to prevent fraudulent payments if the watch is stolen.

In terms of the watch itself, Swatch points out that the NFC uses “no energy at all from the watch itself,” so it won’t make an impact on battery life. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Greater China market, which includes Hong Kong, accounted for almost 40 percent of the company’s sales in 2014 (around $9.63 billion). In Swatch’s most recent earnings, the watchmaker reported a nearly 20 percent decline in first-half net income compared with last year, but blamed the downturn on exchange rates rather than increased competition from smartwatch makers.

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