Case in point: last week, American Express announced that it has partnered with Jawbone on a fitness tracker that Amex cardholders will also be able to use to make contactless payments.
According to the financial services giant, the deal marks the first time a dedicated wearable fitness tracker will be combined with an NFC chip to support payments.
Jawbone’s UP4 tracker, which will be available for purchase online this summer, monitors sleep, activity and heart health metrics. It also includes apps, including a Smart Coach system, which are designed to help guide users as the work on improving their health and fitness.
Many financial services companies have been experimenting with innovative new payment technologies, and wearables are an area of significant interest.
For payment companies like Amex, wearables are particularly important because they represent a possible device through which consumers can spend money and do so more easily.
But wearables also represent a channel for brands to align themselves with consumers who are health conscious.
Alluding to the alignment of the Amex brand with a hardware manufacturer that appeals to active, healthy consumers, Amex EVP of Digital Partnerships and Development, Leslie Berland, stated:
We believe this unique technology will delight our active, digitally-savvy Card Members in a powerful way and drive a new type of engagement at hundreds of thousands of merchant locations nationwide.”
Healthcare in the United States is moving to a more patient-centric model and the market for wearables looks to be a big beneficiary of this trend.
That may provide many brands, including financial services brands like Amex, with a number of interesting opportunities.
Looking beyond Amex’s partnership with Jawbone, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which brands can play a big role not just in driving adoption of wearable devices themselves, but in helping crate gamified experiences built around these devices that reward consumers for engaging in activities that can improve their health.