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Wear it’s at: wearable payment systems are boldly going forward

8th Oct 2015
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As on the fashion runways, almost anything goes. There are payment wristbands and payment watches. There’s a ring that uses Bitcoins to make a payment. A British fashion designer is integrating near field communication technology into his new clothing line. Also in England, Barclays Bank has announced that its customers will soon be able to make payments using a Barclays wristband or key fob—or even a sticker that turns any flat surface into a paypoint.

Mobile payment is quickly becoming standard in leading smartphones. Apple was first to market with Apple Pay, a mobile payment service that enables certain Apple devices, including the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch, make payments at contactless points of sale. Google has now launched Android Pay, another tap-and-go system that allows consumers to simply hold their Android phone or other compatible device near a merchant’s contactless terminal and instantly complete a transaction.

The exercise-focused fitness band Jawbone is also getting in on the action with its new built-in payments technology powered by Amex.

One of the most intriguing new payment devices comes from a Canadian-based startup called Nymi. The company has developed a wearable device called the Nymi Band that reads your electrocardiogram to verify identification. Because your heart beat is unique, just like your fingerprint, the wristband can authenticate your identity whenever you have it on and purchases can be made securely using it.

“In enterprise, where security matters, multifactor authentication is a requirement, and all the tools, to be honest, suck,” said Karl Martin, Nymi’s CEO and co-founder. “We’re in this position where the market is really ripe for multifactor authentication applications that work across physical and logical access. It’s our primary area of focus today.”

Nymi has partnered with MasterCard and Royal Bank of Canada for a pilot trial starting this summer—and NXP is providing the technology to make it happen. This new easy and secure method of payment pairs the innovative biometric security of the Nymi Band with industry-leading payment chips from NXP.

The synergy between wearables and mobile payments is strong. Nearly 40 percent of people who are highly likely to buy wearables in the coming year say they want it to come with mobile wallet functionality, according to a new study from market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey. Additionally, 64 percent of shoppers say they would be willing to make purchases with a wearable if they have one, found a new study by e-commerce provider Avangate.

Overall, wearable device adoption is expected to accelerate markedly in the next few years. Juniper Research predicts global wearable device shipments will increase more than 400 percent by 2017, reaching 116 million units, up from 27 million in 2014.

Of course, as is the case with anything that people wear, there will not be a one-size-fits-all solution in the field of payment wearables. That’s OK. Here at NXP, we’re open minded. And we’re excited to build the chips that will bring mobile payments to the masses—in all their many fashionable forms.

By Brintha Koether, Payments Segment Director at NXP

To find out more about the ongoing changes in the retail industry, visit the NXP blog.


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