Queensland’s Heritage Bank has beaten the big four in getting wearable payment devices out to customers, with today’s rollout of wristbands that act as Visa cards.
The wristband contains the same Visa Paywave chip that allows the customer to “wave” credit and debit cards over a payment terminal. Staff trials were completed earlier this year and now 40 customers are getting their hands on the device.
Heritage chief executive Peter Lock said the bands work exactly the same as a Visa card but it just happens to be strapped to the wrist – and is waterproof.
“So whether you go out for morning run or a daily swim, or jump out of the car with children on your hip, you’ll no longer need to take your wallet or your phone,” he said.
“You can simply strap this new payment device to your wrist to make payments directly from your savings account.”
A full deployment to all Heritage customers is expected later this year. While the current customer pilot is limited to Visa debit, a bank spokesperson told Business Insider that Visa credit cards would be available on the device upon the full launch.
Visa has experimented with wearable “cards” before. In February, Business Insider tried Paywave sunglasses that were developed with fintech startup Inamo and spectacles maker Local Supply. However, the glasses took money out from a pre-loaded account, rather than an actual bank account like Heritage’s wristband.
Business Insider understands Westpac is also currently working on a wearable payment device linked to bank accounts — but Heritage Bank, headquartered in the Queensland city of Toowoomba, claims to be the first Australian institution to deploy such technology to actual customers.
The wristband has exactly the same conditions as a Visa Paywave card, with a $100 limit for PIN-free transactions and accepted at any sales terminal where such cards are accepted.
Lock said Heritage was a “digital pioneer” in banking and that the public would be surprised to learn it’s the issuer of half of all pre-paid debit cards sold in Australia, through white labelling with companies like Qantas, Optus and Australia Post.
“As well as our new wearable device, we’ve also developed our own mobile phone contactless payment app, have just released a newly updated internet banking platform, and we’re currently upgrading all of our branches with new more digitally-focused designs,” he said.
Westpac customers do have the option of using their credit and debit cards as a wearable, with the bank last week announcing its availability on Samsung Pay. Some models of Samsung’s Gear range of smartwatches allow contactless payments through that digital wallet.