Chip Transforms Every Watch Into Contactless Payment Device

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The chip delivers fast and secured contactless payments, with contactless payments expected to grow in future

An increasing number of people around the world are conducting contactless transactions as it’s easy, fast and hygienic. Especially in the wake of the Corona pandemic, the acceptance and spread of the technology has accelerated significantly.

In addition to ATM or credit cards, so-called wearables are also in high demand. Now it is possible to equip traditional wristwatches made of metal with the contactless payment function.

The Swiss company Winwatch has integrated tiny security chips from Infineon Technologies into its patented sapphire crystal STISS for this purpose. The chip enables fast and secured payment transactions by radio frequency within milliseconds.

Watch with STISS Sapphire Crystal

Fast and Secure Design

Contactless payment solutions require a triad of semiconductor technology, encryption and analogue radio technology. Whether card, watch, ring or key fob, the integrated chip plays a central role.

It is a mini-computer measuring just a few square millimetres that initiates and controls all communication between the customer and the financial institute via a small antenna. Within around 200 milliseconds – the blink of a human eye – the chip proves the authenticity of the device with an individual signature and creates a cryptogram of card data, payment amount and place of payment. After successful verification, the bank confirms the payment to the reader.

Communication between the card or wearable and the reader is based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. At a distance of two to ten centimetres, the chip uses only the energy field of the reader to calculate, encrypt and transmit the data.

“Whether with a classic card, a fashion accessory such as a ring or smart wearables – chip innovations from Infineon combine the real and the digital world and enable simple, secured and hygienic payment transactions,” says Björn Scharfen, Head of the product line Payment & Ticketing Solutions at Infineon. With our security and contactless expertise as well as energy-efficient chip design, we play a leading role in this growth market”.

“A fast and robust connection from the watch to the reader at the checkout is crucial for customer acceptance,” says Alex Kalbermatten, CEO of Winwatch. “Infineon surpasses all other solutions currently available on the market in terms of wireless quality. For example, by integrating the contactless chip we were able to develop a sapphire crystal that turns every watch – from mechanical heirlooms to metal sports watches – into a contactless payment device. And all of this without a battery.”

The most widely used contactless payment method is still the credit or debit card. According to a report by ABI Payment and Banking Cards Secure IC Technologies, almost two-thirds of all cards used today are contactless. By 2025, their share is expected to grow by more than 80 per cent. Market researchers estimate another 1.9 billion contactless cards to be shipped this year worldwide.

The demand for wearables with a payment function is also growing continuously. According to a study, more than 75 per cent of all Mastercard transactions in Europe are now contactless. Payment transactions with smartphones and wearables have doubled within a year from seven to 14 per cent.


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