WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY SHOW 2016: The integration of contactless commerce services with wearable devices is a “very, very significant” new business opportunity for hardware and app makers, Pedro Martinez, business development manager at NXP Semiconductors, said.

With the growth of contactless commerce services, as well as transportation applications, “services related to NFC technology are already there,” he said. And wearable devices can be used to overcome some of the pain points associated with using mobile phones in this environment.

“The problem within the mobile phone is that you are dependent on the platform, and each and every platform from a mobile phone manufacturer has a different approach,” he said. This means that bringing services to the broadest set of potential customers is a challenge, and “the user experience is not unified”.

In contrast, with wearables, “you don’t depend on any particular manufacturer or mobile phone operating system, you have it within a very neat structure and architecture from an electronics point of view”.

With mobile phones, it is also necessary for banks and other service providers to work closely with vendors to get services integrated with devices. But the low cost of wearables means that other partners can take the driving seat.

It was suggested that for a company making its money out of hardware, offering a partner such as a bank free access to device users would increase the value of the proposition to the end consumer.

He noted that NXP is working with partners who can act as “the bridge between the wearable and the service provider”, at no cost to the hardware maker, so devices can be sold “with a list of services” that it supports.

“Dynamically, you could be downloading any application that you want,” he suggested.

Of course, there are challenges with using wearables for contactless transactions, especially when looking beyond the financial sector to include applications such as ticketing or access control. “You cannot imagine a sports club will be able to spend $1 million integrating systems with a wearable maker,” Martinez said.