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Barclays’ bPay partners with 7 leading watch brands to drive adoption of contactless device payments

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Despite research showing that many smartwatch owners don’t use them to buy things nor plan to, bPay, Barclays’ wearable payments technology division, has formed new partnerships with seven watch brands to embed wearable payments in traditional timepieces and fitness trackers.

Through collaborations with GUESS Watches, Mondaine, Timex, Kronaby, Suunto, ADEXE and LBS, bPay will embed its unique, flexible payments chip in a variety of timepieces, sports trackers and watch straps.

These partnerships will enable style-conscious customers to buy a watch that reflects their personal taste and lifestyle, while enjoying the benefits of speed and ease offered by connected payments. Perhaps being built into ‘normal’ watches will make the idea of using the watch to pay more attractive to a mainstream audience.

Contactless watches for every taste

Building on the success of the pioneering Timex Fairfield Contactless watch, created in partnership with bPay last year, bPay and Timex will launch an expanded range of eight contactless-enabled watches in May, for both men and women.

GUESS Watches is also working with bPay to launch a range of six contactless watches. Wearable payment strap options in silicone and leather will be matched with GUESS best-sellers to provide a fashionable twist on this technology.

bPay’s venture with LBS, a leading watch strap supplier, will also bring additional reach and scale to wearable payments. Together, LBS and bPay are launching the ‘TapStrap’, a replacement strap that can be fitted to any watch with a 18mm, 20mm or 22mm strap – the most common watch strap sizes – enabling wearers to make purchases up to £30 quickly and easily.

Meanwhile, Suunto, the Finnish manufacturer of sports watches, dive computers and sports instruments, will be broadening its offering for sports enthusiasts with a bPay-enhanced version of the Suunto 3 Fitness watch, launching later this spring. Suunto has been at the forefront of design and innovation since 1936 and is trusted by adventurers all over the globe.

Also launching are partnerships with Swiss watchmakers Mondaine alongside Kronaby, the Swedish manufacturer of hybrid watches and ADEXE Watches, manufacturer of classic lifestyle timepieces designed in London, all who are developing a range of payment-enabled watches with bPay seamlessly embedded into the strap.

To support production of these contactless-enabled products, bPay is working with Tappy, a License Visa Technology Partner and a Visa Vetted Vendor. Tappy’s production facilities are authorised to embed the bPay chip into bPay’s brand partners’ products.

The growing appetite for wearable payments

These agreements come as data from Barclaycard’s latest Contactless Spending Index shows that wearable payments are surging in popularity, as spending via bPay jumped 129 per cent year-on-year in 2017.

This spike in usage indicates not only an increased demand by consumers to pay quickly and easily, with ‘touch and go’ saving seven seconds per transaction compared to chip and PIN, but also a desire to opt for a contactless payment method which best suits their needs.

However, more recent research by Episerver suggests that, while 35% of consumers own a smartwatch, 66% never browse on their device and 70% never purchase. More than half (51%) of shoppers who never want to try new technology functions again report it’s because these technologies did not improve their experiences.

That said, 30% of consumers are interested in trying drone delivery.

Adam Herson, Business Development Director, Barclays Mobile Payments says: “Consumer appetite for wearable payments is reaching critical mass, and we’re proud to be meeting this growing demand with the help of our industry-leading partners. Thanks to the range of products these agreements will bring to market, customers will be able to buy a watch or fitness tracker that not only suits their taste, but also unlocks benefits of speed and ease in everyday purchases.

“Whether buying a bottle of water when out for a run, or a newspaper on an afternoon stroll around the city, today’s shoppers are looking for ‘built-in’, seamless payment experiences. Our game-changing, flexible bPay chip means we can transform any traditional timepiece into a smart device – without sacrificing style.”

Paul Martin, Managing Director, Sequel UK GUESS Watches adds: “We are really excited about this collaboration and this will bring another dimension to our range of products, where fashion meets lifestyle functionality.”

bPay will showcase a selection of the new timepieces at Baselworld in Switzerland, on 22-27 March 2018.

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