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Optus looks to add wearables to Cash by Optus

Optus is aiming to get into the wearables game by the end of 2015 to allow customers who don't own NFC-enabled phones to make use of the telco's cashless payment system.

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The connected watch will allow you to make cashless payments through the Cash by Optus service. Aloysius Low/CNET

BARCELONA -- Optus today announced that it will be releasing fitness bands and connected watches to grant customers without NFC-enabled phones access to its Cash by Optus cashless payment service. However, these wearables will only be released at the end of the year -- right now, the carrier only has working proof-of-concept prototypes.

The Cash by Optus program was announced last November, and the Visa and Heritage Bank initiative allowed users who had an NFC-enabled phone to make payments with their devices at Visa Paywave terminals. The phones acted as a virtual debit card, with customers being able to load up to AU$500.

At launch, this was limited to mostly Android devices with NFC. Optus says this move to wearables will allow more customers to make payments on Android and Apple devices via the Cash by Optus app and a paired wearable. The watches and fitness bands will be made by a company called Connectedevice, in partnership with the telco.

"We want our customers to see their phones as a natural evolution to paying for goods and services any time, anywhere," said Ben White, Optus vice president of mobile marketing.

White also said the telco is considering "offering free fitness bands for customers when they sign up."

Right now, Cash by Optus is incompatible with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay -- the two big names in mobile cashless payment. That said, an Optus spokesperson did mention that the telco was working with the South Korean smartphone maker on its newly announced payment system.

And while the upcoming wearables don't need to be connected to your phone, doing so will allow you to check your credit balance in real time. There are also plans to add support for the wearables to provide alerts and notifications.

Optus and Connectedevice have not yet disclosed prices for the watch or fitness bands, though Gilles Novel, director of digital payments at Optus, said the wearables would be "affordable."