Nationwide has become the first financial services provider in the UK to allow customers to check their account balances on their smartwatches.
The new service from the UK's largest building society, available from today, builds on its Android banking app. Customers who have the app downloaded onto their smartphone can use it to choose which account balances to show on their smartwatch. Wearers can then access their real-time account balance on theirby saying, "OK Google, start Quick Balance."
Nationwide said the Quick Balance option on the mobile app has been used over 12 million times since it was launched in June. Balance updates can also be sent automatically to the smartwatch every morning.
Tony Prestedge, COO at Nationwide, which has 15 million customers, said giving customers who have the technology the ability to check their balance on their watch "provides them with even more choice as to how they interact with us".
But at the moment there aren't many customers with wearable devices. Nationwide might be hoping to get ahead of its rivals in adopting a new technology, but the market for smartwatches is – at best – nascent. While consumer electronics companies have been pushing smartwatches as the next big thing after smartphones for a number of years now, they have had little success. One analyst recently described the market as.
Google is attempting to rally support around Android Wear as a means of making smartwatches more useful and user friendly but it's still extremely early days — as such, there are likely to be relatively few smartwatch users in the UK able to use Nationwide's service in the short term.
Longer term, however — and depending on the reception of the Apple Watch due next year — smartwatches may become more of a mainstream gadget. At that point, applications like Nationwide's may become commonplace.
More on smartwatches