Approximately 102 million wearable devices were shipped in 2016 alone, up from 82 million in 2015, according to a report by Mary Meeker.
Fitbit’s smartwatch employs Mastercard’s “token services” technology that allows users to conveniently make and receive secure payments through an NFC chip inside the product. Mastercard generates unique tokens for 16-digit card numbers located on the front or back of payment cards to differentiate from credit card numbers, which safely processes payments via the device without revealing bank or credit details. The product is designed for health and fitness enthusiasts, as its apps include personal coaching, heart rate monitoring, insights on sleep stages and cardio fitness levels, music storage and access to Pandora Radio.
The Fitbit Ionic processes contactless payments when users tap their device near a contactless terminal, which are available at over 6.6 million merchant locations worldwide. Its “pay without your wallet” feature is also compatible with Amex and Visa credit cards.
Mastercard’s contactless payments allow users to “live a life untethered from phones and physical wallets,” as the payment capability can convert any device into a “commerce device” that provides convenience through the highest level of security, the company said.
In the initial stages of the partnership, payment functionality will be supported in the U.S. with participating issuer banks and will later expand to international markets.
Kiki Del Valle, the senior vice president of commerce for every device at Mastercard, said that “Consumers today are expecting technology to help them accomplish life’s daily tasks with as few steps or clicks as possible. Del Valle added, “By adding payment capabilities to a Fitbit device, Mastercard cardholders who are already on-the-go can easily buy what they need without having to bring their wallet with them.”
Jon Oakes, the vice president of product management at Fitbit, said that “We’re focused on delivering the features that add that right level of utility to our users, so they can focus on reaching their health and fitness goals. Fitbit Pay lets you make payments on the go directly from your wrist with Fitbit Ionic, adding convenience to your life and the ability to leave your smartphone and wallet at home.”