Fitness Meets Finance in Intuit's Wearables Plan

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Health and wellness apps may not much in common with small business payments and merchant services, but it was the fitness-tracking craze that lit a fire under Intuit to build an Apple Watch app for its clients.

Intuit on August 6 released its GoPayment Sales Goal Tracker, which allows small-business owners to view transaction performance through an Apple Watch. The idea is the client can track payments data similar to how one might use an Apple Watch or Fitbit to track progress toward an exercise goal.

"It's inspired by the health tracker apps. You set a sales goal and you track your progress against that," said Mary Lunneborg, the product lead for QuickBooks GoPayment and Mobile Payments. "And it's not just you, it's all of your employees."

Payments can be tracked by the hour, with reports of daily and weekly sales goals.

Other companies have made efforts to blend fitness with finance, usually by adding a payment capability to products that are primarily fitness trackers, including the Jawbone UP4 and the Microsoft Band.

Intuit's new app joins a growing menu of payments and merchant services connected to GoPayment, including QuickBooks, invoicing, point of sale technology and mobile card acceptance. Intuit has experimented with wearables for several years and has already integrated Apple Watch with other services, such as the Mint personal finance app.

"We were already creating an updated iOS [GoPayment app] for the App Store and wanted to develop a companion app to go with it, something that's different than what GoPayment is today," Lunneborg said.

The Apple Watch still has to be paired with an iPhone, so Intuit is positioning the Apple Watch app as a management tool rather than as a standalone app. Intuit is also developing a similar app for Android Wear devices, Lunneborg said.

"The Apple Watch provides a tremendous convenience advantage over a mobile device and therefore one of the big opportunities is to provide users with the information that they care most about," said Rick Oglesby, head of research for Double Diamond Payments Research. "For small business owners, what could be more important than the performance of their business?"

The suite of GoPayment features can also be integrated with third-party payment providers, Lunneborg said. Payments are a part of how Intuit builds merchant relationships. Intuit's partnerships run the payments spectrum. It recently integrated with Coinbase to support Bitcoin payments, and is a go-to merchant services partner for mobile point of sale providers such as Vend, Flint and Square.

Wearables are still a nascent technology for merchants and payments companies, but the technology has enjoyed some early traction at Disney resorts, and issuers such as Barclaycard and RBC have also experimented with wearable payments.

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