You’re looking at Swatch’s new Bellamy watch. It’s a simple-looking analogue timepiece, without an LED screen, mobile OS or computational brain — but it does contain an NFC chip that will allow you to make contactless payments using the otherwise dumb device.
Swatch has announced that it’s partnering with Visa to launch the watch in the US. When it makes it there in early 2016, it will allow users to make payments at contactless POS terminals. However, Swatch doesn’t explains exactly how it will work, nor whether it links directly with a bank account, merely referring to it as “like a prepaid bankcard”.
Indeed, without some of the other sensors aboard a smartwatch, some people might worry about how secure the device is — and Swatch doesn’t offer any details just yet about authentication. Much like contactless bank cards, then, someone else would be able to make contactless payments if they had the watch on their wrist — unlike, say, with an iPhone where Apple Pay requires Touch ID confirmation to authorise a payment.
Still, that concern aside — one that is, incidentally, just as much as of a worry with contactless debit or credit cards — it’s a neat idea. Adding a little everyday smart to an otherwise normal-looking watch seems like a nice idea for those people that don’t necessarily want a full-on smartwatch strapped to their wrist.
In terms of the watch itself, Swatch points out that the NFC uses “no energy at all from the watch itself,” so it won’t make an impact on battery life. The watch actually launched in China back in October, where it sells in a typical variety of simple, colourful designs for around $124.
The exact pricing of the US model is yet to be confirmed, but it will certainly be cheaper than the Apple Watch. No word yet on whether there are plans to bring it to Australia.