Traditional watch makers have not been so eager to jump head on into the smartwatch buzz but the advancement of mobile payment might be giving them second thoughts. Swatch, however, while still mulling over a proper smartwatch product, does have a stopgap solution to that. It has just announced a non-smart, some call it dumb, regular watch in China and while it doesn’t do all the fancy things smartwatches can do, it does do at least one thing they can: make payments without the need for cash or credit cards.
Swatch CEO Nick Hayek hinted as much last May when he revealed that the company is indeed working on a “payment watch”, though back then it was immediately presumed it would be a smartwatch. Once again, Swatch as proven pundits wrong. The Swatch Bellamy, named after American writer Edward Bellamy who first conjured up the idea of credit cards, is as plain as a Swatch watch can be. Except it has an NFC chip for making payments.
The watch naturally doesn’t connect to the Internet or a mobile device, so the NFC chip is mostly used for identification and authentication, much like a credit card would. Technical details are light at the moment, but this could mean that there are no added security benefits either. Losing the watch would pretty much be like losing your credit card.
For this venture, Swatch has partnered with China’s UnionPay, the state-run bank association that pretty much corners the market when it comes to mobile payments. The advantage to this kind of timepiece is that Swatch can sell it at cost, 580 yuan or roughly $91, while also pushing forward the cause of mobile payments. The Swatch Bellamy launches January 2016.