Payments have rarely been a selling point of wearable devices. Google's Android Wear platform does not require NFC, and the Apple Watch's support of Apple Pay may be more a quirk of timing than of strategy, since the watch launched less than a year after Apple's mobile wallet.
In the smartwatch market, consumers may not expect a wearable device to support payments any more than they expect their kitchen appliances to. And yet, the card brands are more active than ever in embedding their technology into a dizzying number of internet-connected devices.
For Mastercard, Fitbit Ionic is a chance to provide another alternative to match payments with another activity.
"This is the coming to life moment for our commerce for every device program," said Sherri Haymond, executive vice president of digital partnerships for Mastercard. "We have worked to have our tokenization services initially available on smartphones for Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, and then we started talking about expanding the utility of [tokenization] to service different devices."