Samsung is adding support for Samsung Pay contactless payments in its new Gear3 smartwatch amid a marketwide proliferation of transactions for connected devices and clothing.
Samsung debuted new wristwatches at a tradeshow in Berlin Wednesday evening, including support for contactless payments.
The watches include the Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier, which both support contactless payments. The Frontier version allows users to make phone calls and book mobile cab rides from Uber without connections to a smartphone. The Samsung watches can have their own phone number, can send SMS messages and use apps from Spotify. The phone feature will be available in the U.S. and South Korea, with other markets requiring Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Samsung’s Gear S3 does not connect to iPhones, but is compatible with some Android devices. The new smartwatch technology was originally reported by Bloomberg, and Samsung did not immediately return a request for comment.
Watches have been considered fertile ground for contactless payments for some time, since it requires less of an effort to pay with a wrist as opposed to taking out a phone for a contactless payment.
Apple was a bit earlier to market with a watch that supports NFC payments. Alternative payment wristbands have also hit the market, including options from Direct Cash Payments, Disney and Barclaycard. The Pebble smartwatch has also gained some traction from payments companies, including PayPal. PayPal also supported earlier Samsung smartwatch technology.
"Wearables have found a larger market in the health space where apps can create meaningful new value and engagement to the wearer," said Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation at Mercator Advisory Group. "I expect to see some convergence in the future, with smartwatches adding more sensors so one wearable can be a fully functional trainer, health monitor, and biometric collector. At that point apps can flourish that will find new ways to analyze the data to help us improve our lives – or protect our assets in the case of biometrics."
Samsung Pay debuted in September 2015, using acquired technology from LoopPay that's designed to minimize work on behalf of the merchant by mimicking a traditional card payment. While rival Apple Pay quickly won bank support, mobile payments have been slower to catch on with merchants and consumers. Google's Android Pay is the third major competitor among third party wallets, while banks are starting to launch their own systems.
Outside of smartphones, Samsung has gradually added mobile payments technology to its smartphones and other connected devices over the years, debuting its wallet as early as 2013. It has also added payments technology to televisions and refrigerators.
Samsung has also tested payments in a variety of wearable clothing, including a "Smart Suit" with payments embedded in the sleeve.