The Swiss watchmaker has partnered with Visa to enable an NFC payment feature in its upcoming watch, the Swatch Bellamy.
Unlike the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear, which are smartwatches, the Bellamy is an analog watch, inside of which is hidden an NFC chip.
It originally unveiled the new timepiece in October at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China – the country where the Swiss company hopes to create quite the NFC watch following. After all, it has teamed up with China’s UnionPay to power the NFC service.
In the US, the partnership with Visa will allow the latter’s cardholders to tap and pay with the Bellamy. The other countries that will be first to try the new watch, which is slated for an early 2016 release, will be Switzerland and Brazil.
“Fully consistent with the DNA of the pioneering Swiss watchmaker, SWATCH BELLAMY combines exciting yet functional Swatch design with state-of-theart payment technology from Visa. SWATCH BELLAMY will open a new era of connected commerce, as mobile payment acceptance continues to increase around the world,” the company said in a statement.
The company also points out that the NFC chip inside the watch will not use any energy meaning users should expect the normal battery lifetime for the watches.
A smart play not being a smartwatch?
It is a brave play to release an analog NFC watch into a burgeoning wearable market dominated by smartwatches. However, dominate is a relative term: Apple Watch, despite being the market leader, has been very underwhelming, selling seven million units since its launch this spring according to research firm Canalysis – well below original expectations. There are also many reports and posts of people buying the watch, but returning it quickly because they could not find any use for it or complaining that the watch’s battery doesn’t last very long and also drains the iPhone’s battery even faster.
Swatch’s own CEO described the Apple Watch as a toy “but not a revolution”. He pointed out that these smartwatches cannot go on for longer than 24 hours.
Therefore, it not only appears to be a brave play, but also a smart play to release a rival to the smartwatch that has a longer battery life and a payments feature – which is a more coveted feature of a smartwatch than anything else.
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