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Is wearable technology the new digital wallet?

Is wearable technology the new digital wallet?

A few months ago I joined the wearable technology community by purchasing the Pebble smartwatch, a darling of Kickstarter  crowd funding, the Pebble raised $80 million, the most successful Kickstarter project to date.

At first I felt a little geekish wearing the shiny black device, but as I started to master what it could do, and how to tailor my notifications to suit me I was quite impressed.

Now the smartwatch momentum is picking up - according to Strategy Analytics  Wearable Device Ecosystems (WDE) service, global smartwatch sales will grow almost +500% in 2014. They expect technology heavyweights -- such as Samsung, Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Google -- to expand the market significantly in coming years.

Back to my humble Pebble, developments have picked up the pace with new interesting apps appearing on a daily basis. The Pebble team have started to mature their market by launching two Pebble app stores, one for iOS and one for Android.

Aside from the usual notification, weather, news and game apps, sophisticated apps are becoming available to control your home devices – security, heating, music and so on, alongside apps to control your mobiles features and send stock SMS message responses directly from the Pebble.

But what about finance? Perhaps too long a throw for a pebble?

Not so.

In the last few weeks a number a serious finance apps have been launched. They include:

LevelUp announced the first payments app for Pebble and makes it possible to pay at the check-out with a flick of the wrist. LevelUp claims to be the largest mobile payment network in the US.

Wallaby Financials  card recommendation technology uses merchant, credit card, and financial data, combined with the user's personal preferences to select the best card for use in distinct situations.  The Pebble app enables users to access their Wallaby Wallet on their wrist and get recommendations on the best card to use with a simply glance.

The PebbleBucks app generates a barcode for the watchface, which can be scanned at the counter to pay for drinks and snacks. No more fumbling with a phone app or whipping out a wallet. 

St George Bank is developing prototypes for smartwatch applications for the Pebble and the Samsung smartwatch, with Bluetooth payments rather than through NFC.

And Paypal is set to be the first payments provider for Samsung's new range of Gear 2 smartwatches.

The challenge for payments and banks will be supporting a variety of smartwatches linked to both iOS and Android smartphones with no agreed set of standards.

That aside the market will grow significantly in the next five years and I for one can see the Smartwatch becoming the new digital wallet.

What do you think?  



Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 26 March, 2014, 15:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

So far, it was either "fumbling with a phone app" or "whipping out a wallet". Thanks to Pebble, they are now swept into the same category of friction. Mobile wallet afficianados might protest and so do I, but for a different reason: After reading both phrases in a single sentence, I'm convinced that whipping out a physical wallet is far more convenient. When it comes to replacing the plastic form factor for payments, I boldly predict that wearable payment will scale heights that mobile payment has been trying to do in vain for close to a decade.

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