Home Your Tech Mastercard enables Fitbit Ionic’s tap and go contactless payments: Fitbit Pay

Mastercard enables Fitbit Ionic’s tap and go contactless payments: Fitbit Pay

Fitbit Ionic is the company’s first “true” smartwatch, and in its attempt to mimic some of the features of existing smartwatches, contactless payments and “Fitbit Pay” is on that list, with Mastercard tapping and going.

If you’re a Fitbit Ionic smartwatch owner, or soon will be as the device is only in pre-order right now, making a contactless payment the way that some smartphones and smartwatches can already do is a feature that’s soon coming to you.

Mastercard says its “industry-leading token services” are “powering these transactions,” with Mastercards services said to “transform any connected device into a commerce device, providing consumers with the freedom to shop using the device that is most convenient to them".

The credit card, technology and global payments company says the payment option “will be accessible at 6.6 million merchant locations globally and will be rolled out in Australia later this year”, which is timely considering Mastercard’s quoting of a 2016 IDC report noting that “Australia is the second highest country for wearable technology”, and with “more than half owning a wearable device”, according to a PwC 2016 report

The payment functionality will be initially supported in the US with participating issuer banks, and will expand to other markets across the globe soon after.

Mastercard’s media release is entitled “Mastercard makes post-workout shopping a breeze for Fitbit users”, but unless Mastercard has discovered a contactless way to apply some deodorant, this headline may not be quite as exciting as Mastercard’s PR people imagined it would be.

That said, the media release’s sub-heading that the move will give Fitbit Ionic device owners “the choice and peace of mind to make secure tap-and-go payments” is more realistic.

Kiki Del Valle, senior vice-president of Mastercard’s “Commerce for Every Device” department, said: “Consumers today are expecting technology to help them accomplish life’s daily tasks with as few steps or clicks as possible.

“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.”

Mastercard also notes that you’ll be able to leave your smartphone at home, too, although this presumes you have money in your account, otherwise a shopping spree that against an account with not much money in it could result in… issues for all concerned. That said, one has to imagine that Mastercard has thought of this, otherwise it would be a giant flaw.

Mastercard says its “industry-leading token services provide consumers the freedom to shop using the device most convenient to them, with the highest level of security available for payments. As part of this service, Mastercard generates a unique alternate number or 'token' for the 16-digit card number found on the front or back of a payment card".

“The token number is not only different from the card number but is also, on its own, useless when trying to perform a transaction via a different device. Tokens are a safer way to process payments without actual bank or credit details being exposed.”

Jon Oakes, vice-president of Product Management at Fitbit, said: “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.

“We’re delighted to work with Mastercard to deliver the freedom of contactless payments to our users.”

By adding payments capability to Fitbit Ionic, Mastercard proudly boasts it is “ensuring that everyone, everywhere has the ability to make and receive secure payments using any connected device across a number of different verticals such as wearables, connected cars, smart home and retail".


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.