During the pandemic, many safety protocols were put into place, and we started doing things differently. Foremost among the lifestyle changes we made was the way we pay. We ditched cash and cards for the next best thing: contactless payments. Indeed, beyond safety reasons, contactless payments seem to be cementing their place in the post-COVID world thanks to their speed and added convenience.
If you want to hop onto this trend, you can always download apps like Google and Apple Pay on your smartphone. However, you can also take it a step further with chic wearable devices for added style and a hands-free experience. But in a market worth over $82 billion, how do you choose just one? We list some of the best wearables for contactless payments for both this year and beyond.
The Types of Wearable Payment Devices
There are two main types of wearable payment devices: contactless and NFC.
Contactless wearable payment devices use radio waves to make payments. This means you don’t need to remove your device from your clothing or place it near the payment terminal. You can use contactless wearable payment devices with most cards and smartphones.
NFC wearable payment devices use near-field communication (NFC) technology to make payments. This means you need to remove your device from your clothing or place it near the NFC reader on the payment terminal. Many newer smartphones have NFC capabilities, so you can use these devices with most cards and other NFC-enabled products.
How Do I Choose the Right One For Me?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a wearable payment device:
- Your lifestyle. Do you typically wear clothing that has pockets? If so, you may want to consider a contactless wearable payment device.
- Your financial situation. Do you have a smartphone with NFC capabilities? If so, you may want to choose an NFC wearable payment device.
- Your card type and bank account information. Make sure your wearable payment device can support the card and bank account information of the cards you want to use it with.
- The features of the devices you’re interested in. Are the features important to you? Consider whether the devices have large displays, buttons or touch screens, built-in security features, and the ability to track your spending and budgeting.
01: Fitbit Charge 5
True to its name, Fitbit is renowned for its fitness bands. The Charge 5, in particular, can not only count the steps you take but even measure your vitals to determine when you need to workout or take a rest day. It also comes with Fitbit Pay, which allows you to connect your watch to credit or debit cards issued from banks across the world. Any purchases you make will be covered by your bank’s fraud protection, and Fitbit also encrypts each of your transactions on its end. So if you’re looking for an affordable way to stay healthy both COVID- and fitness-wise, the Charge 5 has you covered.
02: Apple Watch
When opting for the classic smartwatch, Apple’s is arguably the best option out there. Here, contactless payments are powered by Apple Pay, which is accepted in over 64 countries and regions worldwide. Since Apple Pay is only compatible with Apple devices, it uses both the hardware and software of your connected gadgets to encrypt your transactions end-to-end. Paired with a powerful S7 chip, the Apple Watch gives you the best features of a full-blown smartwatch — vitals tracking, the ability to respond to calls and texts, music playback, and GPS — while providing a secure and exclusive payment option.
03: Samsung Gear S3
If you want an affordable smartwatch with as much functionality as Apple’s and more payment options, consider the Samsung Gear S3. Its competing Samsung Pay service doesn’t need to be connected to your phone to make payments, so you can leave your phone at home. It can also do more than just NFC: the S3 is the only smartwatch to date that can facilitate payments via magnetic stripe reader, just like credit and debit cards. The fact that this model is over 5 years old and still keeps up with the times is just another sign that it’s worth your money.
04: NYMI Band 3.0
If you’re on the lookout for cutting-edge technology in a small and unassuming package, this is it. Like all wearables, the latest iteration of the NYMI Band uses near-field communication (NFC) technology to exchange information with payment terminals from a few centimeters away. What’s unique about the NYMI Band, however, is that it uses your heartbeat to confirm your identity as long as you’re wearing it. This helps it deliver on highly-secure zero trust principles that can literally use your heartbeat to authenticate purchases.
05: McLear RingPay
The smart ring is a developing technology that has brought many innovations to the consumer tech market. Some, like the Oura and Motiv rings, are specifically designed for sleep monitoring and fitness tracking. Meanwhile, British startup McLear has come up with an NFC-enabled ring for contactless payments. With RingPay, you can purchase items by literally “fist-bumping” a payment terminal. Made with waterproof and scratch-resistant zirconia, this device is passive and doesn’t need a battery. This makes it perfect for those who prefer not to wear clunky gadgets on their wrist. Currently, it’s only available in the UK. However, payments can be made worldwide, and international sales are planned in the near future.
06: Get by Deed
For a compromise between all these devices, try Get by Italy-based startup Deed. With neither screen nor buttons, this device uses a rigid-flex PCB to make for a uniquely flexible wristband powered entirely by gestures. It’s feature-rich, allowing for notification management, health and fitness tracking, and access to voice assistants. Bone conduction technology even lets you receive calls by placing your finger beside your ear. Get facilitates fully secure contactless payments by first authenticating your fingerprint every time you put the band on. It works with merchants like MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal. Today, Get is vetted by Infineon and is expected to be sold outside of indie sites soon, so keep an eye out for it.
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The Features of Wearable Payment Devices
Wearable payment devices come with a variety of features, including:
- A large display that shows the amount you’ve paid and the current transaction status.
- A button or touch screen to make a payment.
- Built-in security features, such as a PIN or password, to protect your personal information.
- Ability to track your spending and budgeting.
- Ability to pay with cash or credit cards.
With the wearables market expanding at a rapid rate, there are so many accessories for you to choose from. Ultimately, the device you choose will depend on how you prefer to make your contactless payments overall. For more related articles and reviews, check out our comprehensive smart accessories category.
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