Visa Europe unveils a vision for the future of wearable payments, in collaboration with Central Saint Martins


London, 24th September 2015: Managing loose change digitally, categorising payments made with a simple hand gesture and integrating fashion, social media and payments into a brooch.

These are three of the wearable payment design concepts that have resulted from a project between Visa Europe, the leading payments provider in Europe, and renowned art and design institution, Central Saint Martins.

Visa challenged five of Central Saint Martins’ young designers – all either students or graduates of the MA Industrial Design course – to explore the next frontier of frictionless commerce, imagining the form and functionality of contactless wearable devices by 2020. The designs had to be geared specifically towards payments while also challenging the wearable norms that the industry has focused on to date.

The project culminated in a presentation of the three co-created design concepts at the Visa Europe Technology Partner Forum in London last night and is the latest example of how collaborative innovation is driving the rapid pace of change in payments.

Speaking about the project, Nick Mackie, Head of Contactless at Visa Europe, said: "At Visa, we envisage that contactless technology will become a standard feature on many wearable devices by 2020; in fact, there’s no reason why the payment function on a wearable device wouldn’t become as ubiquitous as the alarm function on a digital watch.

"Visa Europe’s expertise in developing innovative payment solutions, combined with Central Saint Martins’ capabilities in human-centric design, is the ideal blend of skill and know-how to explore the wearables opportunity, developing inspirational concepts that people will actually want to experience.

"Contactless is rapidly evolving from cards to other devices as payments become digitised, and Europeans are among the world’s earliest adopters of these new technologies. We see huge potential in the wearable payments space, which is growing in popularity – especially among the tech-savvy millennial market. Wearables take all that’s great about contactless – the speed, convenience and simplicity – and make it better still. The very essence of a wearable is its physical connection to you at any time, which by nature eliminates friction and improves security."

Nick Rhodes, Programme Director, Product Ceramic & Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins, said

"This exciting collaboration with Visa Europe has revealed not only the great potential for wearable contactless payments, but also the massive opportunities for the technology beyond; many of which reside in interactions so routine and every day that we often lose sight of them.

"Our primary task therefore, has been to identify creative opportunities to satisfy people’s needs and desires through technology, and to articulate these through compelling design which has to be a source of usefulness and pleasure.

"Our collaboration with Visa Europe has given our students and graduates an exceptional opportunity to work with the payment industry’s leading organisation, providing in return a fresh new perspective on the future of wearable payments."

The project follows news that Visa has mandated all point of sale terminals in Europe to be contactless enabled by the end of 2019, as Europeans increasingly expect to use new technologies over cash when it comes to check-out.

With the growing digitisation of payments, Visa continues to protect consumers from fraud, however they choose to pay. Secure contactless EMV payments are further enhanced by innovations such as Visa’s tokenisation service, which allows secure payments to be made from any digital device.