Swatch Launches Watch with Mobile Payments
The latest watch from Swatch isn’t a smartwatch but it does something that some connected devices are not yet capable of—making mobile payments. The new timepiece is currently available only in China but will be coming to the U.S. next year.
The Swatch Bellamy, which went on sale in China on Wednesday, is an analog watch that allows users to pay for items at select locations via a built-in NFC chip. This does not require an internet connection and utilizes the services of the China UnionPay Co. which controls most of the country’s bankcard processing.
When Swatch CEO Nick Hayek started dropping hints last spring about the company working on a “payment watch” most media scribes figured that meant that the device would be a smartwatch but the Bellamy does one thing that the current crop of wearables can’t and that is allow the user to buy things on the run without the need for a credit or debit card.
Since there’s no internet connection involved, the built-in NFC chip stores all information necessary for identification and authentication in the same manner as a credit card. One thing Swatch has not revealed is what type of security this system offers or how the system may be turned off if the watch is stolen.
One major selling point for the Bellamy is the price, which is 580 yuan in China or about $91 USD. That’s a fraction of what most smartwatches are going for but of course, they can do a lot more than just allow the user to buy stuff with the wave of a wrist.
Swatch will be bringing a version of the Bellamy to the U.S. and Switzerland in early 2016. Hopefully, the security will be more ironclad by then.