Scrap your wallet, save your life

The global wearables industry is predicted to grow to $US25 billion by 2019. A significant percentage of humans will be going about their lives wearing smartwatches, fitness trackers, augmented and virtual reality headsets and wearable cameras. 

" By the time you finish reading this article more than 25,000 people would have equipped themselves with a new piece of wearable hardware."

In 2015, 84 million wearable devices were sold globally. By 2019 that’s expected to be closer to 245 million.

By those figures, by the time you finish reading this article more than 25,000 people would have equipped themselves with a new piece of wearable hardware. That’s about 10 wearable devices for every Australian, every year.

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According to the latest forecasts, fitness trackers are currently the most-popular wearable device – a trend expected to continue over the next two years.

Smart watches are seen as the most valuable and expected to fetch almost half the overall revenue of this exploding market in 2019.


The 2017 Capgemini World Payments report shows non-cash transactions are growing at double-digit annual rates globally.

The report shows global non-cash transaction volumes grew 11.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015 to reach 433.1 The report shows global non-cash transaction volumes grew 11.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015 to reach 433.1 billion - the highest growth of the past decade.

Emerging Asia led the push with a growth rate of 43.4 per cent and Central Europe, Middle East and Africa was also strong, with a combined growth rate of 16.4 per cent.

The report suggests one of the main drivers of this is mobile wallets – functionality which allows consumers to pay with a mobile device.

Australia is seeing similar trends, bolstered especially by the rapid adoption of ‘tap’n’go’ contactless payments. 

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Reserve Bank of Australia Consumer Payments Survey found around one-third of all point-of-sale transactions were conducted using contactless cards in 2016.

This was three-and-a-half times more than the 2013 survey.

The survey also found mobile payments were only beginning to take hold in Australia.

This is expected to grow as more mobile-wallet solutions become available for consumers.

With such a high penetration of wearable devices around the globe, along with the ever dwindling number of cash payments being made, getting on board the wearable payments revolution is a no-brainer for payment providers.

Save a life

The market is big, and it’s getting bigger. What’s also interesting is how smart these devices are getting.

In August, Fitbit announced the launch of Fitbit Pay enabling health fanatics to make purchases using their wearable tracking devices. 

Wearables could eventually go beyond the current- let’s say superficial - fitness data tracking and move into real diagnosis of serious medical conditions. They could ultimately save lives.

A study conducted by the Apple Watch app Cardiogram and researchers from the University of California San Francisco’s, called mRhythm’, tested how accurate the Apple Watch could be at detecting a heart condition known as arterial fibrillation.

Arterial fibrillation is a serious heart condition which can lead to stroke. People with the condition don’t usually experience much in the way of symptoms.

When detected early, the condition is treatable but often it’s too late by the time it’s discovered. The study found the Apple Watch can detect arterial fibrillation with up to 97 per cent accuracy.

In September, Apple announced it would partnering with Stanford University for a study to further investigate just how accurate the watch can be in detecting abnormal heart rhythms.

The implications of this type of technology on healthcare and medical diagnosis could be huge. 

As the first bank to launch Apple Pay in May 2016, ANZ has seen considerable uptake of mobile payments among its customers.

Almost 700,000 ANZ debit and credit cards are currently available for use on mobile wallets with customers having made more than 30 million mobile wallet transactions, totalling $US1 billion since February 2016.

In October, ANZ expanded its mobile payment offering with Fitbit Pay, enabling customers to pay using their ANZ debit or credit card on the Fitbit Ionic Smart Watch.

Now, ANZ has announced a new way for customers to pay with Garmin Pay allowing customers with a Garmin Vivoactive 3 to enable mobile payments.

Elsewhere, former head of Google X’s display division and now founder and CEO of Openwater Mary Lou Jepsen is developing wearable MRI devices.

The company aims to replace the somewhat obstructive and often uncomfortable MRI machine with something light, non-invasive and of course, wearable.

Jepsen said in an interview her vision includes wearable devices capable of diagnostic imaging comparable to a traditional MRI machine.

Think wearable bras to detect breast cancer, wearable bandages which detect internal bleeding and wearable caps which can help with neurological diseases and disorders.

The wearables industry is huge. Not just in dollar terms, but in the way it impacts our health and our day-to-day lives. There are so many new ideas and applications surfacing across a range of industries.

It’s impossible to tell what might come next, but whatever it is, it’s clear the technology has great potential.

Steve Price is Head of Everyday Banking and Payments at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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