Plastic cards or mobile phones remain popular devices for contactless payment technology developers, but the human wrist is not far behind.

In another example where the flick of a wrist can become a convenient method of payment, Nathan Performance Gear plans to provide an identification band for athletes on which a Visa prepaid chip for contactless payments can be added.

Paying with a band on your wrist has enjoyed favor in the amusement park industry, as Hershey Park incorporated a wristband contactless payment method this year for patrons to use for park admittance, rides and concessions. Park patrons loaded the wristband chip with funds from any of their payment accounts to use the wristbands only at contactless readers within the park.

But Sharon Hill, Pa.-based Nathan Performance will sell VitaBand wristbands that will combine electronic emergency contact information and medical records with a contactless payment capability.

Athletes, especially runners or bikers traveling long distances, will be able to stop for drinks or meals without worrying about carrying payment cards, the outdoor sports gear manufacturer stated this week.

The VitaBand will be available in sporting goods stores for $20 starting Oct. 21, but athletes ages 13 and older must apply for the payment chip separately on the nathansports.com website.

Athletes who enroll will receive a Visa Inc. prepaid chip and accompanying reloadable prepaid card. The athletes can insert the chip to use the identification band at any Visa merchant using a Visa PayWave terminal, and the magnetic-stripe card at any location Visa debit cards are accepted.

Those wearing a VitaBand with a prepaid chip will be able to make payments by waving their wrist over the contactless readers at terminals in more than 150,000 locations, Nathan Performance said.

Those applying for a VitaBand will be asked to link the prepaid chip and companion card to a debit card, credit card, or direct deposit from an employer, during the registration process.

Applicants can load up to $500 for use through the chip or plastic card, and can replenish funds online through the emergency response profile they establish for information to be placed on the band, Nathan Performance said.

Because federal law and banking regulations require users of prepaid cards or chips to fill out an application, it can take between three and seven days for Visa to review the applications approve issuing of the chip and card.

In another example of the wrist becoming a potential contactless payment tool, UK-based Laks GmbH and Vincento Payment Solutions Ltd. last year developed watch2pay, a wristwatch carrying a SIM-sized contactless chip that supports MasterCard PayPass contactless transactions.

Wristbands or watches with payment chips have become more common in the past few years, illustrating that contactless payment technology can target niche markets, says industry analyst Todd Ablowitz, president of Centennial, Colo.-based Double Diamond Group, LLC.

“It shows there are some specific uses for contactless payment, and it exposes more people to it, but it doesn’t solve the bigger issue [of widespread adoption],” Ablowitz says.

Saying he recently ran a half marathon, Ablowitz felt a VitaBand with a payment chip could have come in handy. “I really wanted to buy some extra water afterward,” he says.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry