Developers of smartwatches deliver numerous capabilities and features on those devices that consumers typically use on a smartphone, including payments. But a consumer in the U.K. no longer needs an expensive smartwatch simply to move money from their timepieces.
Barclays has added Loop, a contactless chip with a silicon cover that straps onto most watch bands, to its menu of bPay contactless payment products and is making it available to all U.K. consumers.
The product's release comes less than a month after Barclays officially launched Contactless Mobile, its own Near Field Communication and Host Card Emulation-based payments app for the Android operating system.
The Loop will manage payments through the Barclays mobile app or online, allowing users to add funds to a prepaid account linked to any Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. Loop users can also establish automatic reloads.
However, because the Loop provides no method of authenticating the user, it has a limit of £30 ($38 U.S.) per transaction. The Loop devices are available through the bPay website for £20.
While Visa benefits because its cards are present in much of Barclays mobile payment technology innovation, the card brand is developing its own payments wearables technology to lure future partners.
Visa is testing the NFC Ring at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil and a contactless payment watch with partner Swatch, already available for consumers in Brazil this month. The Olympics begin the first week of August.
Visa and Brazilian bank Bradesco are making an NFC-enabled Pulseira Bradesco Visa payment wristband available for some fans and attendees to test at the more than 4,000 terminals accepting Visa transactions at the Games.
Meanwhile, Barclays has continued to make it clear it wants to stand out amongst financial institutions in the payments technology game, for the most part, with its own brand.
Barclays finally agreed to support Apple Pay in the U.K. in April, or about eight months after the mobile wallet launched in the country. With its Barclaycard unit developing so much of its own payments technology, specifically for contactless and mobile transactions, it was not surprising that Barclays did not immediately cast support for Apple's service.