Is wearable technology the most convenient way to pay?

  • As consumers become increasingly more technology reliant, their expectation to continuously use it in everyday life to make more mundane takes easier, is also growing. Most consumers now use a device to socialise, to shop online, and now even to pay for goods and services while out and about. Technology is all about making things more convenient for the user, and this is a quality that many crave when it comes to the sometimes lengthy, frustrating payment process.


    In order to fulfil this need, payments providers have been offering a whole host of new technologies for consumers to experiment with – with the likes of mobile, contactless and biometrics all having made headlines for being the ‘next big thing’ in payments. And while there is no denying that consumers are embracing these things – Visa has predicted 500 million contactless transactions in the UK alone next year – many are now hailing wearable devices as the next step towards ultimate payment convenience.


    Wearable technology was one of the hot topics at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, with the payments industry being presented with a variety of new products such as Huawei’s TalkBand B1 and Sony's SmartBand. Now, many other technology providers have jumped on the bandwagon, with Barclaycard trialling a contactless wristband and, most recently, Spain’s CaixaBank launching its own in the country. So with all this hype, will the consumers be quite as taken with the trend?


    There’s certainly a possibility that this could be the case. Many consumers are already enjoying the benefits that contactless cards offer them, with the speed and ease of simply having to tap it against a reader to confirm a transaction proving very popular. However, the contactless wristband, for example, takes this one step further, eliminating the need to even get your wallet out to purchase a product. And considering that many consumers are reluctant to carry cash anymore, claiming it is inconvenient when trying to pay quickly, could it soon be the same case with cards soon too?


    However, as with any new piece of technology, consumers will no doubt have their reservations before fully embracing it. Security will always be an issue to new customers, particularly when it comes to sensitive information like their payments data, and the providers of wearable technology will have to convince them of its safety before people will really trust it. As with contactless cards, it is likely that most wearable technology will incorporate a spending limit to those who wish to use it to make payments, for example only transactions under £20 will not require a PIN entry. This will of course limit the chances of hackers being able to make expensive purchases on someone else’s device, but may not win over those who still remain cautious on contactless in general, as the issues between both wearables and cards will most likely remain the same. Wearable technology will have to be introduced as a completely unique means of making a payment before it’s really considered as the main way to pay.