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Future Tech: 

Love Apple Pay? Try these other payment wearables on for size

Admit it, the first time you used Apple Pay you got a tiny rush of excitement. You shared an awkward exchange with the store clerk and afterwards you told a friend. You might have mentioned it to a colleague or even tweeted about it. It’s okay, you’re not alone – but neither is Apple.

Sure, Apple and Samsung are best positioned for market dominance, but they’re not the only ones with a wearable payment device up (or should that be ‘on’) their sleeves. Here are five of the best lesser-known alternatives.

Five wearable payment alternatives:

1. Nymi Band

If you’re going to pay with a wearable then it needs to have a secure method of authentication – usually a PIN code or a fingerprint. Those aren’t the only options, though, and a wristband from Canadian startup Nymi wants you to pay with your pulse.

The wristband charts the wearer’s “unique cardiac rhythm” which, the company says, is enough to verify your identity. Once the wristband has recognized your heartbeat, you can swipe it over the card reader like you would your contactless card and – hey presto – the transaction has been made.

It’s certainly quicker than Apple Pay – by a small margin, at least – but the hard part will be convincing the public to wear a wristband just to make a payment.

2. bPay

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With bPay hidden in your sleeve, you could be having this much fun at the checkout.

bPay is actually a Barclaycard initiative that comes in three different forms; a wristband, fob or a sticker.

Both wristband and fob work pretty much as you’d expect them to, but, with the sticker, you can position it pretty much anywhere you like. For inspiration, look no further than clothing manufacture Lyle & Scott, who’ve hidden bPay technology in at the sleeve of a new autumn jacket. We wouldn’t throw away your wallet just yet though, or else you’ll be working up a sweat next summer.

3. Kerv ring

Some of these payment wearables might be dismissed as faddish, but they are proving popular. This Kerv Ring, for instance, has only just been launched on Kickstarter and has already raised over $40,000 with 25 fundraising days remaining.

Kerv’s ring is designed with convenience in mind. You might be running, clubbing or at a festival, and you can still make payments without the risk (or burden) of carrying around your wallet or smartphone. It doesn’t need to be charged or paired with a smartphone, and its creators say it will be accepted anywhere that accepts contactless payments.

4. NFC rings at London Fashion Week

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If you don’t like the look of the Kerv Ring, then how about something straight from the London Fashion Week catwalk? These NFC payment rings were designed by House of Holland as part of the ‘Cashless on the Catwalk’ collection, and, although just a proof-of-concept, the London fashion house might be on to something.

“I was very clear that I didn’t want to create something that looked like wearable tech,” Henry Holland told Wareable. “We’re at the stage where it has its own kind of recognisable look. If you are a vain, fashion conscious customer you wouldn’t necessarily want to wear some of the mass market pieces of wearable tech that have come out. People have been turned off by it. So this was about creating a piece of covetable, desirable jewellery and saying – by the way, that’s a credit card.”

5. Small Change

Lastly, another proof-of-concept, but possibly our favorite yet. Small Change is an idea to eradicate pockets and jars full of loose change with a single wristband.

It was designed as part of a Visa Europe challenge to create wearable payment solutions for 2020. With Small Change on your wrist, any pennies and cents you receive are collected as a digital number presented on an E-ink display. Not only is it convenient, but it’s lighter and more hygienic, and we’d love to see this idea integrated in our future payments.

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