Westpac has become the first of the Big Four banks to release its own wearable.
PayWear, to become available in early December, is a waterproof wristband that contains the same “tap and go” chip as standard Mastercard debit cards. As such, the device does not contain a battery.
“Australia has the highest contactless penetration in the world, and cards continue to replace cash as consumers demand convenience,” said Westpac consumer bank executive George Frazis.
“With PayWear, there is no need to search through a bag, log in to an app or worry about battery life. It will be on the go with our customers and ready for use when they are.”
Smaller institution Heritage Bank has also released a wrist wearable this year and the other big banks have hopped onto one or more of Samsung Pay, Apple Pay or Fitbit Pay to allow the customer’s own watch to make contactless payments. But Westpac’s announcement makes it the first of the Big Four to give out its own device.
“Unlike many other wearable payment options, our customers don’t require an expensive device to access this technology. Customers will be able to get a PayWear Essentials accessory free of charge for a limited time, making it accessible to all our everyday banking customers,” said Frazis.
Westpac cited its own consumer survey to show 49% women had stuffed cash into their bras to go out on runs or to an outdoor event, and 39% of men had put money into their underwear or socks for similar reasons.
There was no indication if or when credit cards would become available on PayWear.
Westpac is also commissioning fashion designers to create a PayWear Designer range, scheduled to be available from next year. Surfboard designer and entrepreneur Hayden Cox became the first partner through his company Haydenshapes.
“While some customers may opt for the simpler Essentials range, there is also a part of the market that will want something with a little more flavour. This is where the products I’m designing will sit,” Cox said.
Frazis said the bank’s research showed 70% of customers would only adopt a wearable if it “suited their own personal style and lifestyle”, which is why the designers had been commissioned to create PayWear accessories for “different tastes, preferences and styles”.