Today, the watch industry is more much diversified and watches themselves have evolved to become more than just timekeeping tools.
Nowadays, basically all “smarter” watches can keep track of our everyday well-being while the new “wow” function you can find in a growing number of models is the support for NFC (Near Field Communication) technology – allowing us to conveniently make transactions wherever we go.
Fair to say, watches you can pay with are enjoying a massive raise to fame in front of your eyes.
In this article, we will introduce you to the different types of watches that, on top of looking neat, can be used as payment gadgets.
We’ll go through their advantages and disadvantages as well as explain how these payment systems work.
What Is an NFC Technology and How Does It Work?
The technology known as NFC (Near Field Communication) enables two devices, such as your watch and a payment terminal, to communicate with one another while they are in close proximity.
In short, it’s the technology that permits contactless payments.
When two devices are close to one another, they wirelessly connect thanks to NFC.
The technique known as RFID (radio-frequency identification), which enables us to identify objects using radio waves, is essentially a subset of NFC. RFID is nothing new; it has been used for years to tag animals and to scan products in grocery shops and bags at baggage claims.
Identification cards are now one of the most popular ways to use NFC to get entry to locations like office buildings and private garages. Nonetheless, NFC is increasingly being utilized to provide so-called “contactless” payments.
You’ve most likely already witnessed a contactless payment in action if you’ve lately waited in line at a major business like Walmart. A contactless transaction is one in which a device (such as a smartphone) and a payment terminal do not make direct physical touch.
You tap or hover your device to pay with NFC.
The NFC-enabled reader and the smartphone exchange encrypted data back and forth using the frequency in order to complete the transaction. All of this only takes a few seconds.
In fact, one of the nicest aspects of NFC payments is speed. They are much quicker than cash and require a tiny fraction of the time of magstripe and chip card transactions.
Smartwatches with NFC technology
Smartwatches are one of the most popular devices to use as a payment method. These devices often have NFC technology, which allows for quick and easy contactless payments.
The Apple Watch is one of the pioneers in enabling payments.
Among the most popular smartwatch models are the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch. Both devices are compatible with the main mobile payment systems – Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, respectively.
The main advantage of using a smartwatch as a payment method is its ease of use. It is only necessary to bring the watch closer to the payment terminal to carry out the transaction, without the need to carry cash or credit cards.
Among the disadvantages of smartwatches as a payment method is the fairly high cost of these devices, especially when compared to other types of watches.
In addition, more often than not, these devices require to be paired with a mobile phone in order to use the payment function (although a growing number of models released in 2022 and beyond can serve as standalone devices).
Watches with NFC technology
NFC-enabled wristwatches are also an option for contactless payments.
These devices work similarly to smartwatches, but they usually don’t offer such a wide spectrum of functions and apps.
In general, NFC-enabled wristwatches are cheaper than smartwatches.
Some examples are Garmin watches supporting Garmin Pay, Fitbit watches with enabled Fitbit Pay, and Huawei models with, you guessed it, Huawei Pay.
These watches are compatible with the mobile payment systems of the corresponding companies and allow transactions to be carried out without the need to use a credit card or cash.
Among the advantages of using a wristwatch with NFC technology are the ease of use, the convenience of not having to carry cash or credit cards, and the lower cost compared to smartwatches.
The main downside is that these watches often have limited functionality compared to smartwatches.
Mechanical, quartz or hybrid watches you can pay with
Luxury watches are the most traditional type of watch and, strange as it may sound, they can also be used as a method of payment.
A high-end Swiss watch company Tag Heuer pioneered the inclusion of NFC technology in its watches. Watches with NFC technology, such as the Tag Heuer Connected, allow easy contactless payments.
Among the advantages of using a hybrid watch with NFC technology is the combination of the traditional aesthetics of mechanical watches with the modern functionality of NFC technology.
The main disadvantage of using an NFC-enabled mechanical watch is the cost, as these high-end-to-luxury watches often command a higher price compared to NFC-enabled smartwatches and wristwatches.
Watches with QR codes
In addition to NFC technology, there are also watches that allow you to make payments using QR codes.
This payment method is most common in Asia, where it is used by Chinese watch brands such as Xiaomi and Huawei.
To use this payment method, it is necessary to scan the QR code of the merchant with the watch and authorize the transaction from the paired mobile phone.
Although at first, this payment method may be less straightforward than paying with NFC technology, it also has the advantage of being compatible with a wide variety of devices and merchants.
In addition, this payment method is usually more secure, since authorization is required from the user to carry out the transaction.
The main disadvantage of using a QR code watch is the increased complexity compared to payment methods with NFC technology.
Also, this payment method is not as widespread in the US and Europe compared to other contactless payment systems.
Smartbands with NFC chips
Last but not least, there are other very ingenious and cheap solutions that some manufacturers have recently developed.
Xiaomi NFC Pay Strap is a watch bracelet / smartband that incorporates the NFC Chip and allows you to make payments with it as if it was a smartwatch.
Of all the types of watches you can pay with discussed in the article, this one is by far the most budget friendly.