New wearable payment device, Inamo Curl, fits onto any watch, fitness tracker or piece of jewellery.
We write about wearable devices all the time. Recent examples include this fitness tracker that can monitor hydration levels, and this wearable that uses customisable haptic vibrations to communicate with its user. But these are all standalone wearable devices and consequently are rendered obsolete as soon as the latest technology is released. Now the Curl by Sydney based startup Inamo is a wearable device that brings NFC payment functionality to any watch, fitness tracker or piece of jewellery.
The Curl is waterproof and contains a prepaid NFC chip that can bring tap-and-go payments to an existing accessory. A rubber case keeps water away from the NFC chip buried inside and two flexible loops attach the Curl to the band of a necklaces, keyring or whichever item a user chooses to attach it to. The device is designed for active users who can wear it in the sea or pool without having to leave their wallet on the beach. As Peter Colbert, CEO and founder of Inamo explains, “Currently consumers are shackled to their phones, wallets or payment cards, and that doesn’t suit people who want to do activities, such as run, swim or cycle.” Although the Apple Watch 2 is also both waterproof and supports NFC payments, the Curl is significantly more affordable, retailing at AUD 20, with a regular monthly account fee of AUD 5. The NFC payment chip can be topped up through an app or online account, much like a debit card. And payments are made by holding the Curl over the top of a machine. Lost or stolen Curls can be locked and cancelled and the account can also be used to make secure purchases online.
In the next 18 months, Inamo plans to extend the Curl’s functionality into public transport systems, building access, gym memberships and even festival tickets. As wearable technology develops at an increasingly rapid rate, will we see more innovations that allow users to retrofit their existing accessories at a more affordable price?