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Is this the era of the PayTech of Things? By Tony Craddock

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I had an interesting discussion with a few members of the The Payments Association recently and we discovered what seems to be a gap in our collective vocabulary.

It started with a comment about how people now officially love contactless payments and how this was the catalyst for the rise of ‘wearable’ PayTech devices. A selection of examples was listed by wearable.com recently. They included the Magic Band for use at Disney World, the Barclays bPay wristband and LG Watch Sport. Visa announced payment-enabled sunglasses at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

The gap started to appear when the conversation turned to the emergence of contactless form factors that aren’t cards and they are also not wearable.

For example, Optus has added the SmartCup to its range of contactless payment accessories. This new coffee cup features a built-in Optus Pay PayTag in its base, enabling consumers to make contactless payments anywhere that accepts Visa PayWave. HCT Group, a cosmetic packaging company, has turned compacts and other cosmetic packaging into contactless paytech devices. Earlier this month, thousands of commuters were given a free Lucozade bottle featuring an NFC chip. It was loaded with a credit for a free ride on the Transport for London network.

Research by Juniper suggesting the global value of mobile and wearable contactless payments will reach $95 billion annually by 2018. This suggests that we are outgrowing the term ‘wearable’ paytech.  So what do we call those other ‘things’, exactly?

Suresh Vaghjiani from GPS said he’d heard these non-wearable devices spuriously described as ‘things with IoT chips’. They are, of course, not smart devices. They don’t exchange data in the same way. Although they are not IoT devices, we agreed there are parallels in terms of adding functionality to everyday objects.

Our discussion culminated in the realisation that these concepts could be combined to define this trend beyond wearables as the ‘PayTech of Things’.

The consensus was that the ‘PayTech of Things’ is a dynamic emerging trend that could be accelerated by new capabilities such as real-time personalization. I look forward to seeing how this trend evolves as paytech is blended with other ‘things’ to increase consumer convenience and value still further.

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