Swatch, Visa plan NFC-enabled smart watch for 2016

Swiss watch maker Swatch teamed with Visa and its Visa Europe subsidiary to enable NFC-based contactless payments on its forthcoming Bellamy smart watch.

Swatch said the "pay-by-the-wrist" watch would initially be available to consumers in Switzerland, the U.S. and Brazil from early 2016, when the Swatch Bellamy is due to launch. The payments service can then be used anywhere that contactless NFC-based Visa payments are accepted.

In a statement announcing the collaboration, Swatch said the Bellamy smart watch would "open a new era of connected commerce" and would tap into the growing acceptance of contactless payments around the world.

The watch features a dedicated NFC chip under the dial, which will allow consumers to tap-and-go at compatible point of sale terminals. Swatch said "pay-by-the-wrist" transactions do not require additional power from the watch itself, meaning the battery life is not affected by adding the payment technology.

Swatch announced the Bellamy smart watch in October, some two months after CEO Nick Hayek said the company would take on Apple and other smart watch makers with a new range of devices in 2016.

At the time, Hayek revealed Swatch would focus on introducing smart watches with specific technologies rather than try to compete with a catch-all smart watch, Reuters reported.

A report in early 2015 by Deloitte predicted a growing use of NFC-equipped smartphones in the broader mobile payments sector. The investment bank forecast compatible smartphones would be used at least once a month to make a contactless payment in retail outlets by the year-end.

Including the technology in smart watches could prove an effective means of boosting NFC usage in mobile payments, given predictions of growth smart wearable device sales.

In September, IDC predicted shipments of smart wearables would grow from 28.9 million units in 2014 to 76.1 million in 2015, and 173.4 million by 2019.

CCS Insight was more bullish, forecasting shipments of the devices would hit 84 million in 2015 and 245 million in 2019.

For more:
- see this Swatch announcement
- read this Reuters article

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