Westpac opts for own wearable 'PayWear' devices

Instead of plugging into devices manufactured by Garmin or Fitbit, the Australian bank has launched its own range of wearable, hands-free, and battery-free payment accessories.

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Image: Supplied

Westpac has announced the launch of PayWear, its own payment-enabled wearable devices that allow customers to "tap and pay" without their wallet or smartphone on all contactless-enabled terminals.

From December, customers who apply for a PayWear Card online via Westpac Live will be able to insert the microchip into devices such as a silicone band and a "keeper", which can be attached to an existing watch or fitness band, and linked to their everyday transaction account.

Surfboard shaper and Sydney-based entrepreneur Hayden Cox will design the first range of products for Westpac PayWear, with further Australian designers expected to be "hand-picked to speak to a wide mix of everyday Australians".

According to Cox, his designs are ideally shaped for customers that want a payments device with a "little more flavour".

"This product signals an inevitable and innovative progression of our everyday routines," he said.

Westpac's "designer" range is due to be available to customers in early 2018, and is reminiscent of the social media-based Westpac Keyboard -- which was shortly removed from iOS devices in July at the request of Apple. The bank is touting the new tech as more convenient for customers.

"With PayWear, there is no need to search through a bag, login to an app, or worry about battery life. It will be on the go with our customers and ready for use when they are," Westpac Group chief executive of Consumer Bank George Frazis said in a statement.

"When speaking with customers, personal style and choice were important. In fact, 70 percent agreed that they would only wear a wearable device if it suited their own personal style and lifestyle."

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced last month it will be allowing customers to make payments using their Garmin smartwatch.

With the smartwatches from the American multinational starting at AU$299, the bank said the offering opens up more ways for its 4.4 million app-based banking customers to pay.

Meanwhile CBA's wholly-owned New Zealand subsidiary ASB Bank earlier this month announced the availability of payments via Fitbit Ionic, allowing customers with the wearable giant's new smartwatch to pay via a watch tap.

Similarly, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) also went live with the Fitbit payments solution this month.

The latest payment tech from ANZ now means it offers Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, making it the only bank in Australia to offer four third-party wallet solutions, in addition to its own ANZ Mobile Pay platform.

It also announced a partnership with Eftpos and Apple to provide mobile payments via Apple Pay.

Both CBA and Westpac, alongside the National Australia Bank and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, had previously sought regulatory approval to collectively negotiate with third-party mobile providers such as Apple on conditions relating to competition, best practice standards, and efficiency.

The banks had argued to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that alternatives to Apple Pay are unrealistic in the Australian market, after the ACCC handed down a determination denying authorisation in March for the cartel to collectively negotiate.

"These alternatives are unrealistic in Australia, which has the world's highest adoption of contactless NFC card payments and one of the world's highest iPhone market shares, particularly among customers likely to use mobile payments," the banks said previously.

"In Australia, potential mobile wallet providers other than Apple are locked out of the established payment infrastructure in respect of the clear majority of relevant customers."

Westpac reported interim cash profit of AU$4.02 billion for the six months ended March 31, 2017, up 3 percent from the AU$3.9 billion reported in the previous corresponding period.

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