SXSW 2017: Visa’s New Preload Contactless Payment Card is a Pair of NFC Sunglasses

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by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
SXSW 2017: Visa’s New Preload Contactless Payment Card is a Pair of NFC Sunglasses
Visa unveils prototype of contactless payment sunglasses from the Everywhere Lounge on March 13, 2017 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Rick Kern/VISA

Buyers will no longer need to use their debit cards to pay for purchases as the credit card giant developed a new pair of glasses embedded with a tiny payment chip.

Visa unveiled a new sunglasses prototype that can be used as a payment method. The device was showcased at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival on Tuesday.

Visa sunglasses look like an ordinary pair of shades, but feature a small NFC chip that is connected to the user’s Visa account. Instead of carrying a wallet, users can complete the transaction by simply swiping the sunglasses on the payment terminal.

“It ties back to our tagline of everywhere you want to be,” said Chris Curtin, Visa’s chief brand and innovation marketing officer, told CNBC. “Without it it’s hard for us to fulfill our tagline. Our view is we take form factors that you don’t expect to be payment-enabled like sunglasses or maybe like a ring and expose to the market that maybe it can be.”

The company is testing a pilot program at the World Surf League’s 2017 Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast competition, which is sponsored by Visa.

“Our intent here is to demonstrate what we all know is coming: Anything that is a connected device or can carry a chip can be a payment device, as well,” said Sam Shrauger, SVP of Digital Solutions at Visa.

Currently, Visa is not planning to launch the sunglasses worldwide and go beyond the pilot in Australia. They are not available for consumers yet, as Visa wants to observe if there is a demand for them and whether any banks would like to sponsor the device.

With the ongoing development of payment technologies, we are getting closer to a cashless society. There is already a wide range of available mobile wallet apps and their number will only grow in the near future.

In October, Mastercard released a biometric authentication app to let its customers in Europe pay with a fingerprint or selfie. According to Mastercard, the technology is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. With the service, the company will simplify online payments and enhance security of transactions.

At the end of 2016, Visa teamed up with Mastercard to provide an extra security to their digital wallets, Masterpass and Visa Checkout. Both companies are now able to request tokenized credentials from each other when customers make transactions online, in-store or via the app. Tokenization allows making payments without providing sensitive information, such as cardholder’s account numbers and expiration dates.

This year, Jaguar enabled drivers to use their car’s touchscreen to pay for fuel through a partnership with Shell. Another automotive giant, Daimler, presented a new payment solution in January to allow drivers pay for the company’s mobility services using their mobile phones. A few days ago, JP Morgan Chase acquired the payments technology behind mobile wallet CurrentC to expand the availability of its mobile and digital wallet Chase Pay.

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Polina Chernykh

Polina is an undergraduate student at Belarusian State Economic University (BSEU) where she is studying at the faculty of International Business Communication for a degree specializing in Intercultural Communication. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, music and travelling.

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