When I saw the tweet a couple of days ago from Swatch announcing their new ‘Bellamy’ range of watches which will double as a mobile form contactless form of payment, I was intrigued.
Touted by some as Swatch’s foray into ‘Smart watch’ territory, it will be introduced in China in January 2016 before entering the Swiss and U.S. markets. A project done in conjunction with the Bank of Communications and Union Pay, it will be able to be used where Union Pay point of sale terminals are located.
Named for American writer Edward Bellamy, who referred to a cashless society in his 1888 work ‘Looking Backward 2000-1887’, it will contain is a chip in the watch which the wearer will be able to wave over the appropriate reader.
Much like the Octopus contactless form of payment in Hong Kong.
For those unfamiliar with it – launched in September 1997 for the city’s Mass Transit Rail (MTR) system, the Octopus card is a reusable contactless stored value smart card for making electronic payments that has extended beyond transport to convenience stores, supermarkets, some eateries, retail stores, parking, carparks, vending machines, and more.
Octopus contactless functionality is available in a myriad of forms such that include wristwatches (see the City Keys site for the full range) even for children (priced from HKD288, approx CHF 35), who are perhaps less likely to lose a wtch on their wrist than the credit card sized regular Octopus card (photo below). Value is added to them via MTR stations, convenience stores, ATMs and other approved ‘add-value’ operators.
The Swatch Bellamy will be priced at about USD100. Union Pay is in Australia, so I await to hear whether this will be extended here as well.