Barclaycard, Barclays’ global payment business division, has joined the wearable tech revolution by launching its contactless wristband device.
The tool, bPay, uses the contactless payment technology in Barclays’ credit and debit cards, which lets users make payments by scanning them against one of 300,000 UK terminals.
Barclaycard plans to make the bands free of charge and will allow them to be used by the majority of UK card users, not just its own customers, the group said.
Barclaycard also expects that the bands will serve other uses, such as allowing entry into sports and music events.
The device will sponsor various events during the year, including the British Summer Time music festival, ahead of a wider consumer release expected in 2015.
Barclays, one of the first banks to launch a wearable contactless payment tool, aims to encourage more cashless purchases. Several other financial services firms, such as Caixa Bank and Fidelity Investments are developing technology for wearable devices, like apps for use with Google Glass and smartwatches.
A number of companies have also launched wristband devices including a range of hardware – from the fitness-related devices released by Nike, to Samsung’s Galaxy smartwatch.
However, Nike recently said it was considering pulling its FuelBand device out of the competition ahead of the most-awaited Apple’s iWatch, expected to launch later this year.
According to analysts at IDC, the market for wearable devices is set to boom, with growing by 78% a year until 2018. This means that the number of smartwatches and related should top 19m by the end of 2014, before reaching 112m in 2018.