Barclays develops contactless payment wristbands
Barclays says it will roll out wristbands that can be used for contactless payments in the next few months.
It is no secret that wearable technology is one of the key research areas for many tech companies. From Google Glass to patents suggesting that Samsung is still working on a smartwatch design, businesses are seeking ways to make technology more personal than ever.
Now, Barclays has announced that it is planning to extend the use of wearable tech into payment processes.
The bank has become one of the first to integrate wearable tech with finance thanks to a wristband that can be used to make contactless payment from one of 300,000 UK terminals. It will be rolled out at a number of key sponsored events over the course of this year – where it may even be used to gain entry – ahead of a full rollout in 2015.
Those events will include the British Summer Time festival, set to take place in London’s Hyde Park from 6 July to 13 July.
Barclays already uses the contactless technology in its credit and debit cards, though it currently only extends to orders of £20 or less. Retailers pay a small fee to the card provider on each transaction, just as they would with a standard credit or debit card payment.
The “bPay” band, which will be available free of charge, would represent the first step on the road of wearable payment technology – seen by many as the logical next step as making payments via smartphone become increasingly popular.
The bank says it hopes the wristband could be put to other uses such as getting into sporting and music events, which could eventually lead to further developments in the wearable tech field as a whole.
UK consumers are spending less and less cash as it becomes more convenient to use cards, mobile and contactless forms of payment. Indeed, the British Retail Consortium recently found that in the past five years, the average cash transaction value has dropped by 17 per cent, while the proportion of all transactions that were carried out in cash fell by an annual 3.3 per cent in 2013.
Cash still has a place, especially among smaller transactions, but it will be interesting to see if a wristband that lets shoppers avoid carrying small change can draw shoppers away from notes and coins.