Payments processor TransCard LLC is putting a new meaning behind the phrase "time is money."

The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company is working with Watch2Pay LLC to provide U.S. banks with wristwatches built with MasterCard PayPass contactless chips and linked to a prepaid card account.

Starting in April, any U.S. bank using TransCard's prepaid program services will have the option to offer a Watch2Pay wristwatch, says TransCard CEO Craig Fuller.

"The watch takes us in a different direction than other mobile payment options," Fuller says. "We are always seeking product partners, and we are adding the Watch2Pay program into our distribution channels."

Watch2Pay is a Florida-based unit of United Kingdom-based Laks GmbH, which developed the contactless payment wristwatch. The product has been available to banks and consumers in Poland and the UK in the past year, with many banks opting to link it to a credit or debit card, or to a retailer's closed-loop store card, the company says.

Whereas many newer contactless payment products work with phones to tap into the device's data connection and GPS, TransCard is pitching the Watch2Pay product instead for its promotional use.

Banks could opt to provide a contactless payment watch to any customer signing up for a new account, or could sell the watches to current accountholders, Fuller says. "The watches are perfect for giveaway items at sporting events or other venues in which the bank may be promoting its card products and signing up new customers," such as at college campuses, he says.

TransCard's goal in providing extra products for its bank partners is to "increase the life cycle of the prepaid card and retain that card as top of wallet," Fuller says. "The watch helps do that because it is linked to the primary card account."
A payment wristwatch product "has been out there and talked about for a long time," says industry analyst Todd Ablowitz, president of Centennial, Colo.-based Double Diamond Group LLC. "It would be nice if this proves to be its time," he adds.

A key for banks seeking consumer adoption will be to match the wristwatch up with a baseball team or other well-known organization, he adds.

"You probably can't count on it only as a fashion choice," Ablowitz says. The product "certainly has its place" in situations in which consumers would prefer not to carry cash or plastic cards, he says.

For U.S. issuers, the companies are adding an online account-access feature, says Watch2Pay CEO Zoltan Kaman.

"Our U.S. program allows real-time access, including peer-to-peer payments, reload options, balance and transaction monitoring through a smartphone application," he says.

TransCard did not provide specific financial details of the partnership with Watch2Pay, though Fuller says the companies would share any revenue generated from sales or distribution of the watches through bank partners.

TransCard serves 106 banks, covering nearly every state in the U.S., that provide prepaid card services to customers, Fuller says.

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