Barclaycard expands wearable payment devices portfolio

UK financial services provider Barclaycard has announced an expansion of its bPay contactless payment platform, with the addition of three new wearables and a refreshed portal.

Users of bPay will be able to use a wristband, a keyfob or a sticker to pay for stuff via NFC. The service is open to anyone with a UK Visa or Mastercard, from which they deposit funds in a similar system to that used by the Oyster London Transport payment platform.

As well as being handy for commuters, Barclaycard also reckons these wearables will come in handy for shoppers, joggers and parents. Even with a £20 transaction cap and minimum age of 12, however, many would be nervous about allowing such an easy way to spend money into the hands of their children, especially as the new portal offers the facility to automatically top the account up.

While the sticker costs £15, the key fob £20 and the wristband £25, there are no additional usage fees, even when used abroad. They go on sale from tomorrow and a few retailers are already publicly supporting them, including the Snow + Rock group.

“We’re in the midst of a sweeping change in the way we pay, with cash-dominated transactions being replaced by ‘touch and go’ contactless technology that has made it easier, safer and faster to make low-value payments,” said Mike Saunders, MD of Digital Consumer Payments at Barclaycard.

“The launch of our bPay band last year was an evolutionary step for the business, with highly positive customer feedback. People told us they are looking for new ways to pay that offer greater flexibility and choice, and fit better with different lifestyles.

“We’ve been impressed with the speed and convenience of paying with bPay, so we’re very excited about our partnership with Barclaycard,” said Trudy Hills, Commercial Director at Snow + Rock group. “The bPay range allows us to offer our on-the-go sports enthusiasts an easy way to pay – whether they’re running, climbing, cycling or just going about their busy lives.”

Devices aside, bPay faces a struggle to differentiate itself from the contactless debit cards that are now becoming ubiquitous in the UK. While there is clearly some utility in not having to fish your card out whenever you want to pay for something, it will be interesting to see how many people are willing to pay an additional £15-£25 for the privilege.

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