Visa will help Swatch's not-so-smart watch make payments in US

Swatch's Bellamy, a watch that can make contactless card payments, is ready to go in the US, Switzerland and Brazil

Swatch is linking its Bellamy watch with VISA to enable contactless payments in the U.S., but too late for you to go Christmas shopping with -- or for -- one.

Swatch is hoping that the addition of an NFC payment chip to its iconic plastic watches will help it fight off the threat from smarter wristwear with even more silicon, such as the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices.

Last month, Swatch said it will work with Chinese network Unionpay to add some payment smarts to its watches there, hinting that it would soon bring the range to the U.S. and Europe.

On Monday the company confirmed that Visa cardholders in the U.S., Switzerland and Brazil will be able to link their payment cards to the Bellamy when it goes on sale early next year. They will be able to use the watch to make payments worldwide, wherever contactless Visa payments are accepted.

Swatch's October announcement of the Bellamy prompted ridicule and disappointment when it was revealed -- after some months of fighting talk from CEO Nick Hayek -- that it was basically just a watch with an embedded NFC chip.

It wasn't even the company's first foray into wrist-based wireless authentication: it launched the Swatch Access, with an embedded RFID chip able to hold a ski pass, around 20 years ago.

Earlier this year, Swatch tackled the market for smart devices from a different direction, with a touch-screen watch containing an accelerometer. In addition to the step-counting and goal-setting we have come to expect from such activity monitors, the Swatch Touch Zero One also includes a special volleyball mode that counts hits and records the relative strength of the most powerful strikes on the ball. The data can be downloaded to a smartphone for analysis.

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Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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