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A New Three-Company Effort Brings Power to Wearable Payments

January 10, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Wearable technology is not the great potential powerhouse of a field it once was. Just a couple years ago, some were projecting that this would be the new smartphone, extrapolating that consumers liked mobile devices, and wanted devices so mobile they could be worn.

While those projections didn’t exactly pan out, there are still those who believe that wearables have a place. STMicroelectronics, FitPay, and Giesecke & Devrient have joined up to push wearable devices in helping to deliver contactless mobile payments, an old but still noble goal.

The three are bringing together some of their best developments to bring out a powerhouse new system that should deliver a whole new way to pay for purchases. The end result is a security chip that represents what’s considered the first secure hardware and software product that’s actually pre-approved for use with device manufacturers.

Developers can work with tokenized payments from both Mastercard and Visa, opening up a major new opportunity with two of the biggest names in mobile.

Such a system allows more mobile device makers to incorporate card payments into mobile devices, freeing up device manufacturers to focus on actually developing a product. With Mastercard and Visa at least somewhat on board, that makes it a lot easier to load many common payment cards, even those from different payment networks.

On the surface, the idea of a wearable device that connects to a payment network and becomes the ultimate in mobile payment systems is quite worthwhile. It’s one thing to have a payment system encased in a smartphone, but it’s another to move it to, say, a wristwatch.

Being able to wave a hand at a mobile payment terminal and have it connect to the system in a wristwatch is deeply convenient, and it doesn’t represent anything particularly different from what’s currently known.

That’s good news for wearable makers, who have suffered from consumers’ lack of perceived value in their offerings. While wearables might not be the next big thing, they might have a role in some sectors. Mobile payments should welcome wearables nicely; a wallet you can wear isn’t a bad idea.