Mastercard partners with Fitbit for contactless wearable payments

Coming to Australia later this year

Fitbit and Mastercard have partnered to give fitness enthusiasts the ability to make contactless payments with their wearable.

Owners of Fitbit’s new smartwatch model Ionic, will be able to add eligible cards and make payments in Australia later this year.

“Consumers today are expecting technology to help them accomplish life’s daily tasks with as few steps or clicks as possible,” said Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, commerce for every device, Mastercard.

“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.”

According to a PwC report last year, more than half of Australians own at least one wearable device, the majority of those being fitness trackers. An IDC study published at around the same time put that figure closer to 21 per cent, one of the highest in the world.

Powering the transactions is Mastercard’s token service, which generates a unique alternate number or for the 16-digit card number found on the front or back of a payment card.

When making a purchase, the user’s digital wallet sends the token to the merchant, who sends it to the Mastercard network for authorisation. Mastercard then sends the actual card number to the card issuer. Once the issuer receives the request, it processes and authorises the payment in the usual way.

Tokens are a safer way to process payments without actual bank or credit details being exposed, Mastercard said, and don’t work if trying to perform a transaction on a different device.

Last month, Mastercard worked with Transport for NSW to offer holder of Mastercard cards and smartphone wallets linked to Mastercard accounts the ability to tap through barriers on the ferry between Manly and Circular Quay.

“By adding payments capability to Fitbit Ionic, Mastercard 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,” Del Valle added.

Mastercard competitor Visa has been putting its contactless payments chip in various wearables including a pair of sunglasses and, in a partnership with Queensland’s Heritage Bank, a merino wool blazer sleeve, dubbed the ‘Payweave Power Suit’.