FitPay raises $3.1m to give wearable payments trend a boost

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Recently, there have been a lot of contactless card and mobile payment developments: Black Cabs in London will have to work with contactless payments from October this year, which will no doubt boost even further the ubiquity of the payment method after the news that contactless tech now accounts for a whopping quarter of all pay-as-you-go TfL transactions. On the mobile front, reports are emerging from the US that indicate we are about to see ATMs that can interact with smartphones, whilst we recently published a post which focussed on the huge Big Data opportunities presented by the emergence of mobile payments.

But what of the other ‘hot’ digital payment method – the wearable device? It almost seems like buzz around wearables has slightly dimmed in the last few weeks, after a strong start to the year when we interviewed Kerv, the contactless payment ring, and covered the news that MasterCard partnered with Coin to bring payment capabilities to fitness bands.

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However, now it seems to be regaining its mojo as FitPay, a wearable payments startup, has managed to secure a $3.1m seed funding round.

The interesting thing here is that FitPay isn’t a wearable device, instead, it allows companies that make wearable devices to seamlessly add contactless payment capabilities to them.

“The Fit Pay platform, in combination with G&D’s capabilities in embedded secure operating systems, applications and credentials lifecycle management, brings a complete end-to-end portfolio to Fit Pay’s prospective wearable device partners,” said Michael Orlando, Fit Pay’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

Orlando, previously of Jumio and CyberSource runs the company with Scott Stevelinck, formerly a Visa exec.

Fit Pay’s payment platform uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, combined with card network tokenization to interact with point-of-sale terminals at retail locations. Fit Pay’s platform allows contactless payment capabilities on a wide range of wearable devices and the company says its future applications may include transit, secure authentication, and other secure identification use cases.

It went through San Francisco-based Plug and Play Tech Center’s FinTech Accelerator Program last autumn, both of which participated in the funding round. The company was also the winner of the Comerica Bank and RocketSpace $50,000 Wearable FinTech Startup Challenge.

The company has also launched on Kickstarter this week “to support the commercialization of a payment smartstrap the company has developed for the Pebble Time family of smartwatches”.

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