Cash by Optus – ring any bells? Nope, me either – launched last year, the payment scheme Optus has for its customers allows you to use an NFC enabled phone with a special Optus SIM card to make tap-and-go payments with your phone. Today in Barcelona, Optus announced they were looking to introduce a series of wearable products to compliment and expand the system.
Australia is the biggest market in the world for “contactless payments” according to VISA, a stat I’ve heard before from the likes of the Commonwealth Bank, yet we still see no sign of ApplePay launching here.
So while we wait, others will prosper. While Optus are “very very happy” with the customer uptake of the Cash by Optus payment system, I’ve not come across many who are using it. Perhaps that’s partly why Optus is looking to expand the scheme outside of just NFC enabled Android phones.
The idea is just a concept right now, however it’s far enough progressed that I’ve got one on my wrist right now.
It’s a pretty plain looking watch, and when you hear SmartWatch be careful, we’re not talking Android Wear – this is a very basic set of smarts, not dissimilar to the many products out there doing notifications and alerts via your watch.
The difference here is the watch includes all the chips and circuitry required to have an NFC payment take place. Not that big of a deal in terms of space on the device when you remember that it’s in your current debit and credit card too.
Communicating with your Smartphone via Bluetooth only to give you an on-screen balance update on the watch, the Optus Watch is otherwise completely independent of your phone.
With a battery lasting 6 months or more, it’s not the daily charger you’ll find with other smart watches.
You can go to the park, go for a run, don’t take your phone with you, or your wallet, and pay for a drink on the way back – just Tap your watch on the payment terminal. Done.
Cash by Optus accounts can hold up to $500 and are similar to many “online debit” accounts available in market.
Using the app on your Android or iOS phone you can check the balance, and make transfers to and from your standard bank account.
I think it’s fantastic, the issue is the number of SmartWatches and the crowded market segment.
Optus is considering that though, with ideas for simple wrist bands, or even replacement watch bands which can include the technology.
If the idea of not carrying a wallet appeals to you, this will appeal even more – it’s a great concept.
All you need to be is an Optus customer – is this something that would make you switch? Probably not. Is it a great added feature for customers – hell yes.
The watches we saw today, and that I’m testing are prototypes, proof of concepts – if they become a consumer product later this year expect a bunch of options and designs to be available.
Trevor travelled to Barcelona as a guest of the Ford Motor Company, and was given a Smartwatch by Optus to review for a limited period, loaded with a balance of $99.75, and let me tell you – I’m going to test it!