Global research reveals limited appetite for smartwatch payments

While consumers in the US and China show interest in making purchases on smartwatches, Brits are less interested, finds research

While consumers in the US and China show some interest in paying for goods using smartwatches, Brits are less interested, according to global research.

A survey of 1,000 smartwatch owners in China, Germany, South Korea, the UK and the US, carried out by marketing firm GfK, found that using watches equipped with near-field communications (NFC) technology to make payments is not popular.

“People in these countries see potential in using smartwatches to ‘carry’ tickets for passenger transport or as security keys to their computers and online accounts. The ability to transmit healthcare data via a smartwatch is also of particular interest to the majority of people,” the research report stated.

“In America and China, there is openness for using smartwatches as identity cards and payment systems, although Europeans are much more hesitant about these functions,” it said.

The study found that only 35% of respondents were interested in making payments using their smartwatch. This proportion was lowest in the UK, where only 27% were interested. In China, 54% said they would be interested, 40% said the same in the US and 28% in South Korea.

Spanish Bank CaixaBank is in the process of making contactless wristbands available from all its branches following a pilot of the wearable technology. The bank is using Gemalto’s Optelio Contactless MiniTag technology.

The GfK survey also asked smartwatch owners how they felt about using the devices for healthcare data, travel tickets and online identity.

When it comes to using watches to store health data, 69% of respondents in China said they were interested, 50% expressed interest in the US and 43% in South Korea. In Europe, about 33% of UK respondents were interested and 25% in Germany.

Respondents in China were also most interested in using a smartwatch as a travel ticket, with 63% positive about the idea. This compared with 54% in South Korea and 41% in the US. Only 32% showed interest in the UK and 31% in Germany.

Using a smartwatch as secure identification to log on to personal computers or access online accounts interested 45% of respondents overall.

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