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Watches Set for Payments

Through a promotion linked to the FIFA World Cup in Germany, consumers in Taiwan can now pay for goods at select merchants using an RFID-enabled wristwatch.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jun 09, 2006MasterCard International has teamed up with Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Austrian watchmaker Laks and On Track Innovations (OTI), a provider of RFID payment devices and readers, to bring a new RFID payment option to soccer fans in Taiwan, as the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup finals kick off in Germany. Fans have until the end of the World Cup finals on July 9 to sign up for a Chinatrust FIFA credit card account. For a fee of 2,400 Taiwan dollars (US$74), they'll receive a Chinatrust FIFA card and Laks PayPass watch, which features the PayPass logo and soccer balls on the watch face.

The watches contain a high-frequency 13.56 MHz RFID inlay compliant with ISO's 14443 air-interface standard and MasterCard's PayPass specifications for data encryption. To pay for purchases, users present the watches to PayPass RFID readers, located at any of 400 merchant locations in Taiwan or 30,000 worldwide.

The use of a PayPass-enabled wristwatch makes transactions more convenient than other forms of contactless payment.
OTI provided Laks with the complete RFID inlay, preloaded with OTI's operating system and secure payment application. Laks then inserted the inlay into its watches.

For purchases under US$25, a PayPass card or watch holder need not sign for the transaction. The use of a PayPass-enabled wristwatch, says the companies, makes transactions more convenient than other forms of contactless payment, because consumers wearing the watch won't have to pull a PayPass card, fob or NFC device out of their wallets or bags to make the transaction.

Those who sign up for the FIFA promotion also receive a 5-inch commemorative soccer ball, other World Cup souvenirs and exclusive discounts at select merchant locations, restaurants and hotels.

The RFID-enabled wristwatch is available in three colors.

Asia has a strong and growing market for RFID-enabled payments, which consumers can make using passive cards, fobs or specialty devices such as the Laks watch. Such payments can also be made with cell phones and other mobile electronic devices enabled for payments using the near-field communications protocol. The mass-transit system in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung City allows consumers to use PayPass devices to pay for fares. And MasterCard OneSmart cards with PayPass, available with both a contact-based payment chip and an RFID inlay, are issued through banks in Taiwan and Malaysia.

Because of its growing importance as a manufacturing center, Asia is playing a pivotal role in the global adoption of RFID technologies (see RFID's Silk Road.
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