Swiss watchmaker Swatch SA has signed a deal with Visa Inc. to allow Visa credit card holders to use Swatch Bellamy wristwatches to make instant payments by touching the watch to a special terminal without having to pull out a plastic credit card.
Under the deal, which was announced Nov. 30, Visa card holders in the United States, Switzerland and Brazil will gain the new capability after the upcoming Bellamy watches go on sale in early 2016, according to Swatch.
The Swatch Bellamy watch is a "pay-by-the-wrist" device that uses contactless near-field communications (NFC) technology to complete transactions. The watches will be able to be used anywhere in the world where contactless NFC Visa payments are accepted, according to the companies. NFC uses high-frequency radio waves to enable electronic devices to communicate over short distances, usually less than 3.9 inches. They will be able to be used with point-of-sale purchasing systems inside stores.
The Bellamy watch is named for American writer Edward Bellamy, whose 1888 science fiction novel "Looking Backward 2000-1887" envisioned a utopian world in which cash was replaced by credit and debit cards. "Bellamy was the first to write about such cards, forty years before anyone else," Swatch said in a statement.
The Bellamy watches will have traditional colorful Swatch designs, along with a built-in NFC chip hidden under the dial.
The new watches were unveiled in China in October and will go on sale in January 2016.
No other details or prices for the Bellamy watch have yet been announced.
Swatch Bellamy, in collaboration with Visa, is scheduled to be initially available in early 2016 in the U.S., Switzerland and Brazil.
The mobile payments marketplace has been getting quite active in recent months, joining Google's Android Pay, Apple Pay and other contenders.
In November, LG Electronics announced that it is developing its own LG Pay mobile payments system in conjunction with the two largest credit card companies in South Korea, Shinhan Card Co. Ltd. and KB Kookmin Card Co. Ltd., according to an earlier eWEEK story.
In October, JP Morgan Chase jumped into the expanding mobile payments marketplace with a planned Chase Pay service that will launch in mid-2016 and take on products from established competitors, such as Apple, Google and Samsung. The Chase Pay service will allow customers to pay for goods and services in-store, in mobile apps or for online purchases at retailers, including Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Shell, according to an Oct. 26 announcement. The service will be available to some 94 million Chase credit, debit and prepaid card account holders.
In September, Samsung launched its Samsung Pay mobile payment service in the United States, allowing users to pay for purchases using their Samsung smartphones in just about every retail location through its acceptance of multiple payment systems, from NFC to traditional credit card readers and swiping terminals, according to the company. Samsung Pay also integrates Samsung's Knox mobile security platform, which uses one-time codes to authenticate purchases rather than transmitting a user's personal or credit card information. Samsung Pay uses biometric authentication through fingerprint ID and NFC, and can also emulate magnetic-stripe cards for purchases. Samsung Pay only works with that company's latest smartphones.
Apple Pay, which has been available since October 2014, lets Apple users make purchases and payments using their late-model iPhones, iPads or Apple Watch devices.