Swatch, the world’s largest watchmaker by marketshare, introduced — in China, mind you — a payments-focused wristwatch today.
The new Swatch Bellamy offers a shot in the arm to wearables payments. Swatch is, after all, the poster child for mass market watches with 18% marketshare. If this watch can contain payments functionality, any watch can.
What is more interesting about the new product is that it does but two things: tells time and makes payments via NFC. This is a markedly different approach than Apple with its Apple Pay, and it was done purposefully.
“We want to stay away from the connectivity to the cloud or internet, because you don’t want to lose control of your data,” Swatch CEO Nick Hayek Jr. told Reuters.
Swatch says Swatch Bellamy works “like a prepaid bankcard.” Swatch has partnered with UnionPay, China’s bankcard association, to “activate” the “system,” and with Bank of Communications, “where customers will be able to purchase the new watches.” That certainly gives Bank of Communications a new revenue stream.
Bank of Communications is one of the largest banks in China, serving more than 3.7 million customers. Watches are available in BOC branches, as well as Swatch stores in China.
Swatch said it will introduce the Bellamy in the US and Switzerland “early next year,” and that means it will likely require banking partners there, too. There is no word on which FIs Swatch is talking to.
See a report on the new Swatch, which includes a demo, below.
Learn more about fintech startups and how they can work with banks, as well as hear from Vikram Pandit, ex-CEO of Citigroup, at Bank Innovation Israel, Nov 10-11 in Tel Aviv. Click here for details.