Smart Watch/Fit Bit Pay


Getting straight to the point, It isn’t likely that any smart device pay will be king, or even a prince any time soon. That doesn’t mean the trend won’t continue due north. From 2012 to 2018 the global NFC (near field communication) usage has gone from 5 million active users to 166 million active users. Smart device payments became noticeably more popular with the introduction of Apple Pay around the same time as the introduction of chip cards in the united states. Both of these events had left the payment acceptance device market scrambling to catch up. Which also keeps consumers on their toes. Asking questions like, “What the most secure way to make a payment” or “How quick can I pay and get out of the store”?

Personally, I use fitbit pay with the Ionic device on a regular basis. Sometimes because its convenient and sometimes because it’s a great conversation piece due to my position in the merchant services sales world. Fitbit pay has changed the way I see, think about, and use payments. I often find myself purchasing lunch at either the grocery or a local sandwich lunch spot without ever taking anything out of my pockets.

I have been finding that many merchants do not have this option turned on with their account. Or they have an outdated terminal that does not allow for these types of payments. Not only is this type of payment more secure for the customer, but it exponentially reduces the risk of chargeback for the merchant.

What is NFC/Tokenization

NFC or Near Field Communication is the technology behind all electronic device payments. This is also known as contactless payments meaning no cards or devices make physical contact with each other. This technology can also be seen more and more throughout our everyday lives. Specifically, in the hotel industry as they implement the rewards apps with the “contactless” key. For and NFC connection to be established the devices must be within 4 cm (1.6 inches) of eachother.

Tokenization is the process in which sensitive data, or in this case, the credit card number necessary for running a transaction is turned into a less sensitive set of data known as a token. This token is the aspect of device payment that creates a separation in the device security compared to a physical credit card terminal transactions as we know them. Tokenization can be viewed much like going to an arcade. You spend real money for tokens to play the games and other services the arcade offers. Theft of the tokens is worthless in comparison to theft of the cash used to purchase them.


Tokenization is not the only increased level of security fitbit pay offers. To activate the NFC capabilities on the ionic device you must hold down a button to get to the unlock screen. Then you have to enter your 4 digit code. The device will be able to make payments as long as it stays on your wrist. Once it has been removed, the activation process must be completed again.

Another notable perk to this device is the fact that it vibrates and beeps when the payment is communicated with the terminal. Not only does this insure that you made the payment. But, it is an extra line of security if anyone is attempting to steal credit card information in a public setting. Your watch will never make a payment without you knowing.

Fitbit pay steps up to the plate when technologies growing focus is data and efficiency. Like many others I find taking my wallet out of my pocket or even my phone to be an unnecessary burden. Yes, I understand that it sounds lazy but i’m a millennial and have to make sure I live up to expectations. In reality Fitbit pay is an efficient convenience whether you don’t feel like taking your wallet out of your pocket, forgot your wallet, or even a 1 year old on your arm.

How is this positive for the merchant or business accepting the payments. As I said earlier, NFC payments greatly reduce the risk of chargebacks. Due to the increased security for the customer, accepting a payment in this form insures that the in person transaction was taken. Making this much more difficult for the consumer to “win” a chargeback. When an NFC transaction is taken it is recorded in the processing type by the processor. This means if a chargeback is filed it shows that the person made the transaction in person.


It is hard to find many cons of Fitbit pay with the ionic device. However, with any NFC payment option there is an extensive amount of set up involved. This includes but is not limited to whether the chosen card and issuing bank allow for NFC capabilities. It often means verbal confirmation of token activation as well as a multitude of other security confirmations. Keep in mind this could also be viewed a positive in relation to the measures taken to insure only the card holder is activating the device.

The only other major difference is an obvious one. Your payment device only goes as far as its battery life. For some devices this can mean 24 hours. For others such as the focus of this article, the Fitbit Ionic, it can be up to five days. A credit card can’t run out of battery life for payment. Only hitting your limit which we all hope never happens will end a spending spree.

Final Thought

As a joint  fact and opinion based article it seems obvious of my bias towards the pros of fitbit pay for both the consumer and merchant alike. I have worked in the industry for many years and I continue to see this trend upticking year after year. This trend is proof enough that merchants should be on the ball with all acceptance scenarios.Interested merchants should inquire with their processor or bank to get more information.  As a consumer keep an eye out for the NFC symbol that can be seen on the terminal above. When you see that symbol on a terminal, flip over your watch and try it out. The merchant may even appreciate the knowledge.

Do you know if you are accepting Fit Bit or Apple Pay or do you need to be set up. Please reach out to us and we can help.

Jeremy Brown

Head of Bank Partnerships

Mercantile Processing Inc

302-524-8000 x111