Pay with a flick of the wrist with new bPay wristband, key fob and sticker
Three new wearable devices from UK bank Barclaycard can be used at any contactless till, and you don't even need to be a Barclaycard customer.
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
If you're sick of fumbling for change or punching in a PIN, then you probably love mobile payment. As services like Apple Pay shine a spotlight on the idea of paying for stuff without pulling out your wallet, UK credit card Barclaycard is introducing a new bPay-branded wristband, key fob and sticker that enable British shoppers to make contactless payments with a simple tap.
Contactless payment is widely supported in the UK and is becoming a common sight in other countries, including the US. Contactless credit and debit cards are now joined by phones that can pay for stuff, including the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S6, as tech companies try to elbow their way into the retail and financial sectors.
By offering its own contactless devices, Barclaycard wants to keep the transaction fees from your purchases rather than seeing it taken by Apple or someone else, and by offering a range of devices Barclaycard is offering you more choice about how you pay for stuff in this new mobile payment age.
To use the bPay devices, you simply transfer money from your bank account to your bPay digital wallet and then spend it by holding the device close to any till that has a contactless reader. The wearable gadgets are backed by a new online portal and app to see your balance and top up the devices even while you're out and about.
You can also set it up to automatically top up with more money when you reach a certain level, so you shouldn't ever find yourself with insufficient funds on the wristband. There are no fees to make payments or top up.
Although it's created by Barclaycard, you don't have to have a Barclays account or Barclaycard to use bPay. As long as you're over 12 and you have a UK debit or credit card from Visa or MasterCard you're good to go.
The bPay fob can be attached to a key ring or bag. The wristband is a simple bracelet. And you can stick the sticker on anything to make it swipe-able at the till: your phone, your forehead, wherever you want.
The bPay sticker costs £15, the bPay fob is £20 and the bPay band is £25 (around $24-$40, or AU$30-50).
The bPay sticker follows the Barclaycard PayTag sticker introduced in 2012, and the new wristband replaces the bPay wristband that Barclaycard launched last year. If you attended last summer's Pride or British Summer Time festivals in London you should already have a bPay wristband, and Barclaycard will replace it with the new version for free -- look out for an email from bPay asking for your colour preference.
As well as paying for things in shops, you can swipe your bPay gadget to board transport that supports contactless payment, such as the London underground and London buses.
Because contactless cards and devices like bPay don't require a PIN or signature, a thief only needs to steal the card or gadget and they can spend your money. To combat that, there's an upper limit on the amount that can be spent in one go: at the moment in the UK you can only use contactless cards and devices if you're spending £20 or less, but that goes up to £30 (roughly $50 or AU$60) in September.
If your device does get stolen, you can cancel it through the app or call bPay in the same way you would cancel a stolen card.
The new bPay gadgets go on sale to UK customers online from 1 July and will be on sale on the high street from August. The first retailers to sell them will be Snow+Rock's CycleSurgery and Runners Need shops. That's because this kind of wearable is useful when you're out running or cycling and there's no space for a wallet in your PE kit.
Mobile and contactless payment is one of the innovations shaking up the way we pay for things and manage our money. Barclaycard quotes figures from the UK Cards Association that reveal the use of contactless payments quadrupled in 2014, with the public splashing out £2.3 billion via their contactless cards. Meanwhile Apple Pay launches in the UK in July. In related news, new retail bank Atom Bank is set to launch with just an app instead of branches.