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Practical Uses: Contactless Payment

Think you know silicone wristbands? Think again. They’re not just flexible plastic rings resting neatly on your wrist, looking pretty or highlighting your commitment to a charity. These days, in the age of wearable technology, we’ve seen net-connected glasses, smart watches and intelligent t-shirts. Well, now you can add the personalised wristband to that collection. And when we say personalised, we really mean that – think, bank details. That level of personalisation.

Breaking the Bank

Contactless payment isn’t a new thing – Visa cards have had the ability for several years now, and Apple recently announced contactless payment via the iPhone. Just like you would an Oyster Card on the London Underground, you simply press the wearable tech against a sensor and voila – payment is made

No surprise, then, that keen banking boffins have figured a way to put such technology into silicone wristbands. Barclays Bank have been trialling the tech – dubbed bPay – since the end of last year, giving folks the chance to board trains or pay for coffee with a simple wave of their wrist. This isn’t just limited to Barclays’ customers either – the 10,000 initial commuters who are part of the scheme were able to bank with anyone.

Currently, the bands come in standard black, but, since we mentioned personalisation, it’s worth pointing out that the bPay bands will be available in a whole range of colours once it rolls out nationwide.

Let the Festivities Begin

Barclays isn’t the only big name who’s been trialling the concept of a contactless silicone wristband. The organisers of Download Festival have also given it a bash this summer; held at Donington Park this June, festival-goers were able to strap a ‘dog tag’ to their wrist and make super-fast payments by – you guessed it – waving that wrist. This means no more digging in your pockets for loose change, or thumbing through your cards to make a payment – especially welcome after six or seven or twenty-two tipples. Attendees could even check their wrist-balance and top-up their wrist-credit from machines dotted around the site. Handy (Or ‘wristy’, if you prefer)!

The team at Silicone Wristbands Direct were lucky enough to speak to one attendee of the music festival, who said: ‘The idea of a contactless payment with a wristband seemed scary at first. But they were great. I didn’t see anybody have any problems with them, you could keep track of how much you spent, and since it rained a lot at that festival, it meant that the silicone wristband was the perfect waterproof option. No soggy fivers!’

It was, in fact, the UK’s very first cashless festival. Well, according to promotional material anyway – technically that honour goes to the Barclaycard Wireless Festival, which used PayBand for contactless payment. Now all sorts are getting in on the event, including rugby squad the Saracens and Southampton FC, so expect to see the trend grow and grow.

Radio City

So how does it all work? Well, first, you need a silicone wristband, and then some techy know-how. Inside each of the RFID wristbands is an RFID chip, which stands for radio-frequency identification, that transmits data via, quelle surprise, radio waves, to a sensor which then ‘reads’ the data. The technology has been around, in varying forms, since it was first proposed by the Soviet spy ring in 1945. That concept was then refined by Allies after World War II, before finally coming to full RFID fruition in 1973. After its inception, it’s been used in all manner of things, from farmyard animals (Or any animal that’s microchipped, for that matter) to traffic monitoring. Setting a precedent, RFID chips have even been put into windscreen badges, in order to remotely pay road tolls.

Not only was it a matter of time, then, before the smart, wearable technology hit the wristband market, but it’s also the perfect match for tasks such as payment. Of course, if you prefer classic wristbands, we’re still on hand to help for all your promotional needs. Simply contact us on 01524 848 382 and we’ll be delighted to help.