Westpac launches 'designer' wearable payments accessories

The bank has made payment-enabled keychains, silicon tags, and some pins available, but there's still no sign of Apple Pay.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Image: Supplied

Westpac has announced the availability of "Centsitive Objects" on Wednesday, touted by the bank as a range of "designer" wearable payment-enabled accessories.

Instead of just plugging into devices manufactured by others, Westpac launched its own range of wearable, hands-free, and battery-free payment accessories in October.

The new range designed by Sydney-based entrepreneur Hayden Cox builds on the bank's PayWear wearable payments play. According to Cox, his designs are ideally shaped for customers that want a payments device with a "little more flavour".

"Our customers are increasingly on-the-go with more than 56,000 now using PayWear to support their everyday transactions. So we've evolved our existing range of accessories to create something special that offers a sleek, subtle, and convenient way to tap-and-pay," Westpac Head of Group Brand, Advertising & Media Jenny Melhuish said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We know personal style and choice matters to our customers; in fact we've found 38 percent of Australians find style important when it comes to wearable devices, and 71 percent would use a wearable if it fits their personal style and lifestyle."

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Priced between AU$20 and AU$30, Westpac has made available a Band + Chain, which is a convertible two-in-one keychain that can be also worn as a waterproof wristband; a Slimline Keeper, which is a silicon tag that can be added to an existing watch or fitness band; a Centsitive Patch that can either be sewn into or ironed onto clothing; a Nostalgia Pin, which is basically a safety pin; and an Incognito Pin, which comes in a few different designs such as a lightning bolt and half sphere, and can also be attached to clothing.

Australia has one of the highest usage rates of contactless payments. Mastercard reports its PayPass "tap-and-go" functionality is used in around 80 percent of face-to-face transactions; it's a similar story where Visa is concerned, with 92 percent of in-person transactions on the Visa network utilising its PayWave service.

Although the tap-and-go function is heavily utilised in Australia, less than 1 percent of contactless payments are conducted via mobile or wearable means. But that hasn't stopped Australian financial institutions offering up smartphone and wearable payment options.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) offers its own in-app NAB Pay function, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, both Fitbit and Garmin Pay, as well as a PayTag for iPhone purchases; while the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) similarly has Garmin and Fitbit Pay available, as well as a tap and pay sticker for iPhone users.

ANZ Bank is the only member of the Big Four to make Apple Pay available to customers, however.

Westpac, alongside CBA, NAB, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, were previously pushing for regulatory approval to collectively bargain with Apple for open-access to the NFC antenna on the iPhone.

After labelling Apple Pay alternatives "unrealistic" in the Australian market, the banking cartel had their request denied by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Last month, Westpac announced that customers will soon be able to make payments using their voice through Apple's native assistant Siri.

Siri for Westpac is an extension of Westpac's mobile banking app for iPhones, and will allow customers to link their bank account to make a payment and check account balances.


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