Barclays has announced plans to tap into demand for wearable devices, with the launch of a trial of its bPay contactless payments wristband.
Around 7,000 consumers will be able to try out the bPay band at a
number of events this summer, ahead of a full rollout in 2015. The pilot includes the Wireless Festival, where attendees will be able to upload their ticket and add credit to the band, allowing them to make payments of up to £20 at a time.
Customers will set up an online ‘top-up’ account and link this to their card or bank account and then add money either manually or automatically when funds run low.
Upon its full launch, the band will be available to customers of all banks for no fee, allowing contactless payments at 300,000 payments terminals.
However, across the blogosphere, Alexander Peschkoff of TEDIPAY notes “CNP (Card Not Present) expense to top-up the “wallet” at one end Vs interchange fee earned at the other end don’t stack up. As we all know, Google used that approach and lost money on every transaction. Barclays cannot afford (and will not be allowed) to do that”.
It is not the first time that Barclaycard has announced the launch of a contactless payments wristband, with its Payband wearable device announced in 2012. The service used the same NFC technology, though wristbands were used once and for specific events only.
According to analysts at IDC, the market for wearable devices is set to boom, with growing by 78% a year until 2018. This means that the number of smartwatches and related should top 19 million by the end of 2014, triple the number from last year, before reaching 112 million in 2018.
A number of banks have also begun to develop technology related to the wearable devices.
For example, Spanish lender Caixa Bank has developed a range of consumer apps for use with smartwatches and Google Glass.
Last year, the research arm of financial services firm Fidelity Investments claimed to have developed the first Google Glass app targeted specifically at investors and traders.
Barclays say they currently have no Google glasses app planned.