Swatch Teams Up With Visa for a Watch That Can Make Payments
Watch out, Apple Watch: Visa and Swatch are coming for you in 2016.
On Monday, the two companies officially announced a partnership that will allow Visa Inc. (V) cardholders in Switzerland, the U.S., and Brazil to make payments with Swatch’s upcoming Bellamy watch. Rumors of the deal surfaced last week though no details were released.
Slated to launch next year, the Bellamy watch—named after American writer Edward Bellamy who in the nineteenth century envisaged a future in which cash will be replaced by credit cards—will be outfitted with a near field communication (or NFC) chip. Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 6 and 6S phones, the Apple Watch, and some Android phones are equipped with this same chip, which lets devices make payments when tapped against select merchant card readers.
In mid-October, Swatch introduced the Bellamy watch in China, though its partnership there is with China UnionPay Co., which controls most of the bankcard processing in the country. The watch will begin selling in China in January.
Swatch isn’t the first company to attempt to take on the Apple Watch by planting an NFC chip into a wrist-word device. Back in April, fitness tracker maker Jawbone unveiled a new device in its UP line, which is also equipped with such a chip for credit card payments. To make this possible, Jawbone inked a deal with American Express, which, like the Swatch-Visa partnership, will let American Express cardholders connect their accounts to their trackers and use it to make payments.
It’s not clear, however, if the partnership is exclusive to Visa or whether other companies like MasterCard and American Express could also sign similar deals with Swatch for its upcoming watch.
The new Bellamy watch is scheduled to become available in early 2016 in the U.S., Switzerland, and Brazil.