Fitbit recently unveiled their first smartwatch, called Fitbit Ionic, which will support NFC contactless payments with their mobile wallet called Fitbit Pay. Fitbit Pay will be compatible with Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards issued by partner banks and is expected to launch with the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch in October.
While the market for mobile contactless payments hasn’t taken off as quickly as many expected, it’s been a much tougher road for those competing in the wearables market. Fitbit fell short of last holiday seasons’ projected sales while Apple seemed to overestimate demand for their smartwatch. While the Apple Watch didn’t quite provide the boon in adoption of Apple Pay the company had hoped for, Fitbit Pay may lead to more active lifestyle persons adopting contactless payments, at least when they’re out for a run.
While an Apple Watch is more like a smartphone on your wrist, the Fitbit Ionic is still meant to be used as your primary fitness tracker, but with many smartwatch capabilities like NFC, apps and many options for digital watch faces. Features of Fitbit Pay also are geared more towards their current, active lifestyle customer base. Fitbit Pay is more intended to be used for convenience when someone is out on a bike ride or jog. It carries a maximum transaction amount limit of $50 in the United States and £30 in the United Kingdom, which should be plenty for someone who wants to exercise and leave their wallet at home. Beyond payments, NFC technology can be used to lock and unlock doors, meaning you could go out on a long walk or run with one wearable device that includes your mobile wallet, keys and fitness tracker.
Whether the convenience of being able to wear your fitness tracker, watch, wallet and keys all on your wrist will drive more contactless payments will be seen after the Fitbit Ionic launches in October. While it will be accepted everywhere Apple Pay, Android Pay and other NFC-based payment methods are accepted, that is only half the battle. Consumers must also be able to use the payment cards they prefer to use within the mobile wallet.
Fitbit Pay will work with American Express as well as MasterCard and Visa cards issued by participating banks. So far Fitbit has announced partnerships with major card issuers including Bank of America, US Bank, Capital One, HSBC and Royal Bank of Canada, with others expected to be announced soon. When the Fitbit smartwatch debuts in October, Fitbit Pay will be available in the US, UK and Australia.
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