Swatch and Visa have teamed up to create the Swatch Bellamy, a “pay-by-the-wrist” watch capable of making wireless payments set to come out spring in 2016. The Swatch Bellamy will only work for Visa cardholders in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland. Gradually, the contactless payment watch will be rolled out to other markets, the Swiss watchmaker said in a statement Monday.
The technology is made possible through Near Field Communication (NFC), a type of short range wireless signal that NFC-enabled devices, such as the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy, can use to make payments through their respective services. The communication fields remain small, roughly 10cm.
In the case of the Bellamy, the watch is as a wrist-worn Visa credit card that interacts with the NFC-enabled POS terminals you find at many retailers, both big and small. The Bellamy comes in 4 graphically distinct designs, sticking to the aesthetic of the Swiss-based company.
The NFC-enabled Swatch Bellamy was first showed off in China back in October when the company announced they’d partner with China Unionpay to offer contactless payments in the world’s most populated country while teasing a later release in the U.S. and Switzerland. Swatch claims that the watch requires no extra battery life than a normal Swatch watch to make the wireless payments.
Swatch’s leap into the mobile payments market comes at a time when there’s been a rush by tech giants like Apple and Samsung into contactless NFC-enabled mobile credit charging services. Apple Pay is one such popular NFC-enabled service supported by many major retailers, including Walmart and Whole Foods, that works with Visa, American Express and Mastercard and runs on the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 and 6S.
Android Wear devices, like the Moto 360, aren’t NFC-enabled so can’t work with Visa’s NFC POS terminals. Samsung Gear S2 is an NFC-enabled smartwatch with Samsung Pay, however, it runs on the South Korean company’s native Tizen OS system.
The Swatch Bellamy is named after American novelist Edward Bellamy, who, in his 1888 novel “Looking Backward 2000-1887,” imagined a utopian world where cash was replaced by credit cards.
Dieter is a contributing editor at Tapscape.com. He’s also a freelance editor at GoKicker.com and TheOdysseyOnline.com. Follow him on Twitter @dieterholger