The latest from chip maker NXP Semiconductors NV might as well be called the Internet of Fabulous Things.
Early Thursday morning, the tech giant announced a new way to infuse analogue watches, bracelets, rings and other items with mobile payment powers, thanks to its new white-label MWallet 2Go wallet service.
Known for its processors and Near Field Communication sensors, including the chip in modern credit cards, the hardware components manufacturer is no stranger to the fashion sector. Its NFC tech has been used by Dyne Menswear, Khongboon Activewear, Moncler, Rochambeau Bright Bmbr Jacket, Victorinox Travel Gear and Nike to enable customer experiences or secure transactions. It’s the underlying tech for “tap to pay” checkouts at brick-and-mortar shops or transit services.
Now NXP is at it again. With this collaboration with Mastercard and Visa, it’s targeting fashion and accessories companies once more, hoping to entice them into the MWallet 2Go fold. The pitch: They can offer smart accessories or smart apparel, without the complications of building them from the ground up. Instead, they can pull existing products into the Internet of Things by adding connected features.
In this case, the primary feature is payments.
“MWallet 2Go extends our market-leading silicon offering to a truly full service and system solution for mobile payment,” said Rafael Sotomayor, senior vice president of secure transactions and identification solutions at NXP. The service integrates NXP’s NFC tech, software architecture and security, and wallet application and server with Mastercard and Visa’s tokenization platforms. Altogether, the system enables another way to transact that works as easily as bumping phones or smartwatches against a checkout terminal.
The first company to sign on is Montblanc, maker of luxury writing instruments, watches, jewelry and leather goods. The German company used MWallet 2Go to create its own mobile wallet service for its upcoming Twin smart strap, a connected add-on intended to add functionality to its timepieces.
“We’ve combined high-end materials with the most advanced technologies on the market to bring our customers easy, secure payment capabilities for their beloved watches, so they can delight in fashion and convenience while at the same time don´t miss out on digital use cases,” said Dr. Felix Obschonka, Montblanc’s director for new technologies. The Twin strap is expected to launch in August.
As commerce moves from computers to phones and beyond, “having both the partner network and the right technology in place are fundamental to delivering great experiences,” said Matt Dill, senior vice president of global products and solutions at Visa Inc. “Through the work NXP is doing, consumers will ultimately have even more ways to pay that are fast, secure and convenient to their daily lives.”
Mastercard, which partnered with NXP to secure and protect NFC transactions, sees MWallet 2Go as a way for financial institutions to differentiate their product offerings. “Mastercard teamed up with NXP to provide a simple and better way to ensure security with the NXP Loader Service,” said Paolo Battiston, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital payments and labs for Europe. “We anticipate a similar traction with MWallet 2Go.”
If the premise takes off, it could transform a smorgasbord of “dumb” accessories into smart devices. And one day, the act of connecting any object — from bracelets and rings to pens — could just be a matter of slipping a little IoT sensor into the mix.