Fitness Meets Payments: Smartwatch Payments to Roll-Out Through Credit Unions

Fitness Meets Payments: Smartwatch Payments to Roll-Out Through Credit Unions

Fitness Meets Payments: Smartwatch Payments to Roll-Out Through Credit Unions

When the conversation turns to wearable devices, most people think of smartwatches and fitness bands – and for good reason. Gadgets like Apple Watch and Fitbit own a large share of the category.

New advances in the technology, though, are rapidly changing the way consumers view and use wearables, a dynamic that is setting the stage for explosive market growth.

In fact, research firm IDC predicts the wearables market will double in less than four years as consumers begin tracking everything from their heart rate and daily steps to their fertility and sun exposure.

While wearables already adorn the wrists of health-conscious consumers everywhere, their ability to enable secure “hands-free” payments will only fuel their popularity.

Bringing Wearable Payments to Market

Last week, Mastercard announced it will soon satisfy the growing demand for wearable payments by offering payments services for Garmin and Fitbit wearable devices.

The new wearables will allow consumers to make a contactless payment simply by hovering a smartwatch above any NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminal and entering a passcode. As part of the tokenized platform, all purchases are protected by one of the most advanced fraud prevention technologies available on today’s market.

According to Todd Clark, CO-OP Financial Services president and CEO, attracting digital consumers to credit union membership hinges on the movement’s ability to embrace a first-mover stance with fintech innovations.

“As consumers across the country unbox their shiny new wearables from FitBit, Garmin and other fan-favorite tech brands, credit unions need to be right there saying, ‘Yes, we support that,’” he said.

Credit Unions Lead the Way

Two CO-OP client credit unions, in fact, are Day 1 issuers of MasterCard payment services for the Garmin and Fitbit payments wearables. Cardholders at both BECU and First Tech Federal Credit Union will be able to enroll both their credit and debit cards immediately upon general availability of the technology, which is planned for this fall.

“Introducing more convenient ways for our members to make payments aligns perfectly with our member-first focus,” said Doug Marshall, senior vice president, retail, for BECU. “As a Mastercard client through CO-OP Financial Services, we’re able to enroll our members in these new wearables immediately, keeping in step with how our members want to and expect to make payments.”

“Our member base is made up of some of the world’s most forward-looking companies, which makes technology and innovation part of First Tech’s DNA,” said Brad Calhoun, chief marketing & retail officer of First Tech Federal Credit Union. “We are excited to be part of Mastercard’s Garmin and Fitbit pilots to explore new offerings for our members and find ways to make their banking experiences more seamless.”

Clark added, “More than 100 million consumers have already chosen to join a credit union, largely because of the relationships and trust these cooperatives have built with their members. As digital banking and payments tools explode on the scene, many of these members will look to their credit unions for leadership on which are safe to use. We will continue to leverage (our) partnerships, as well as our vast scale and credit union-first commitment, to deliver the seamless, secure tools credit union members need to pay with confidence where ever and from whichever device they choose.”

CO-OP remains committed to helping credit unions embrace innovation that enhances the member experience now and in the future. For more information and insights on how to build a strategy towards digital transformation, download our Digital Transformation Research Report.