Gemalto works with Hellenic bank to roll out wearable payments in Cyprus

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Hellenic Bank has partnered with digital security company Gemalto to bring contactless payment wristbands to Cypriot consumers. Here, we explore the partnership and catch up with Gemalto’s SVP for UK and Ireland to talk about the future of mobile payments. 

First up, contactless wristbands in Cypress.

The wristband in question is Gemalto’s Optelio contactless EMV payment wristband, but is being marketed as ‘PayBand’ in Cyprus.

Gemalto has worked with a local partner, Mellon Cyprus, to provide the bank with an initial end-to-end solution for black silicone payment wristbands. The wristband has an embedded Visa “applet” (a kind of mini app that serves a few limited functions) that will connect to the customer’s Hellenic credit/debit card account.

Cyprus was recently named in Visa’s ‘Top 8’ for contactless terminal penetration in Europe, pointing to an increasingly mature infrastructure when it comes to payments. Well over 50% of the country’s POS terminals are contactless-compatible and one in five cashless transactions, is already completed using this time-saving technology.

The NFC wristbands make contactless payment a genuinely anytime, anywhere proposition. They boost loyalty and appeal to important market sectors such as young, tech-savvy consumers,” said Patrick Kleuters, Senior Vice President for Europe at Gemalto.

George Karagiorges, Hellenic Bank Group General Manager, Retail and International Banking said:

 “Convenience, choice and innovation are at the heart of our customer offer, and we now have plans to extend the NFC wristband range with new colours and materials.”


‘Mobile payments will replace cash’

Meanwhile, we took the opportunity to catch up with Howard Berg, SVP, UK & Ireland, Gemalto who shared his thoughts on the current payments landscape and what the future looks like.


1. On potential move away from physical payment cards:

Berg says Gemalto’s Connected Living 2025 report revealed that 42% of consumers expect to be able to buy anything with their mobile by 2025, and 56% expect NFC-based, paperless travel to be the norm.

“It’s difficult to predict what will happen in the future, but we expect NFC phones and contactless cards to co-exist. While still a major payment method now, the use of cash is decreasing, with mobile payments expected to replace it first, long before cards disappear. With more players entering the field of mobile wallet apps, from Vodafone Mobile Wallet to Samsung Pay, there is an increasing trend toward contactless and mobile payment methods replacing the more traditional ways to pay. This culture of convenience, of reducing the need for wallets, cash and cards, is key to working towards a better connected lifestyle and supporting the IoT.


2. On biometrics and wearables:

Citing a Acuity Market Intelligence report, Berg points out there have been over 200 smartphones featuring biometric authentication technology launched since early 2013, under 70 different brand names.

“This includes a number of smartphones that incorporate fingerprint, iris and eye vein biometrics from market leaders such as Apple and Samsung. Similarly, as the adoption of wearables increases, we will see these biometric security technologies become further integrated into our smartwatches and other devices. With the first step being mass smartphone adoption, we are currently experiencing something of a sea change in the way consumers make use of biometric authentication for applications such as payments, personal banking, e-ticketing, digital access and two-factor authentication with swift and secure biometric recognition. In many ways biometric authentication may not so much fit into the future of wearable’s but become the very wearable themselves.”


3. On governments’ role in improving contactless adoption:

“Governments are starting the see the benefits of contactless to speed up and enhance customer experience in transport but its uses go further than that as they are already used in both the public and private sector for physical and virtual authentication. Private/public partnerships such as the Rio travel card, enable the consumer to start to see the personal benefits that such technologies can offer when backed by public bodies that the consumer can trust.”

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