After months of rumour and speculation, Swatch has teamed up with China’s UnionPay to release its very first NFC-enabled watch, with Chinese consumers set to make payments with the tap of their wrist.
The time is now
On October 14th, the Swiss watchmakers presented ‘Swatch Bellamy,’ the company’s very first product that incorporates innovative 21st century technology.
Group CEO Nick Hayek unveiled the watches at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, emphasising the firm’s new partnership with Bank of Communications and Union Pay, two of China’s largest financial institutions.
This announcement has been coming for months. Payment Eye began reporting on this story in February, with Hayek stating that he wanted to rival the Apple Watch by releasing his own brand of ‘pay-by-the-wrist’ watches by May, a project that clearly didn’t materialise.
In May the Wall Street Journal revealed that Swatch had set its sights on a summer release for its new technology.
Just a few months later Hayek attempted to start a war of words with Apple after claiming that ‘‘the Apple Watch is an interesting toy, but not a revolution,’’ during Swatch’s AGM.
Inspired by the past
The name Bellamy is inspired by 19th century writer Edward Bellamy, whose novel Looking Backward 2000-1887 envisioned a utopian society in which cash has been replaced by credit/debit cards, nearly 40 years before the technology was invented.
Four new watches have been released under the Bellamy brand, each containing the technology possible to make contactless purchases across the country.
During the celebration, Hayek signed a partnership agreement with China UnionPay vice chairman Chen Zhi and Bank of Communications general manager of personal finance services department Tao Wen. Bellamy will hit Chinese stores in January 2016 and is set to be released in Switzerland and the US shortly afterwards.
Swatch has decades of experience developing technology with the potential for use in a smartwatch, such as tiny batteries so thin they can be bent.
The market for timepieces that enable phone or data communication is expected to reach about $10billion in 2018, with half of the market switching from traditional timepieces to NFC-enabled smartwatches.
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