Imagine you’re going for a jog and want to stop at the gas station to buy some calories on the way home. However, you’re wearing those shorts without pockets and you unfortunately don’t have a big enough afro to hold your credit card… yet. You could wear your new Apple Watch and use Apple Pay, but if you’re anything like me, your sweat goes beyond standard water resistance and you’d hate to brick your new $17,000 toy; ahem I mean productivity device. Jawbone has a solution for this problem.

Today, Jawbone announced its brand new UP4 band that will not only offer its flagship fitness and sleep tracking functions, but also enable you to pay using your American Express account through its integrated NFC chip. This will be supported by merchants that offer wireless payments and accept American Express. The UP4 will be available for purchase this summer for $200 dollars.


The UP4 is not the only device that Jawbone announced today. Jawbone also announced the UP2 (pictured right/above), the successor to the UP24. One of the primary improvements in the UP2 are its new design and style. No longer does it appear to be strange piece of pipe cleaner wrapped around your wrist. Now, you can enjoy a sleek full-circle wristband that is 45% smaller and more discrete than its predecessor. The device will support diversity by being offered in a variety of colors. The UP2 is available now for $100 dollars; the same price as a cup of coffee.

The Future of NFC Payments

Mobile payments are poised to become standard as more devices offer the service and additional merchants accept contact-less payments. In fact, “Deloitte predicts that by end-2015, five percent of the base of 600-650 million near-field communication (NFC) equipped phones will be used at least once a month to make contact-less in-store payments at retail outlets.”

While 5% may not seem like a lot, when you compare that to the 0.5% from mid-2014, that is a 1,000% increase. If the trajectory continues at that rate, we would reach 100% by end of 2017. However, as with most trends, they taper off at some point and 100% within two years is extremely unlikely. But it is a step in the right direction and is indicative of the projected growth of this type of payments. The release of the Apple Watch will only catalyze such adoption.

It will be interesting to see how much marketshare smartwatches will take from fitness trackers as they gain traction. On the one hand, a non-gymnazi would likely be satisfied leveraging smartwatch technology to monitor things like daily steps and heart rate. However, heavy exercisers are likely to see value in a lighter more durable band to track their fitness goals while jogging, mountain biking, and doing other intensive activities.

Additionally, the hardware of Jawbone is only half of the value. The integrated Jawbone app provides intelligent recommendations based on its readings of your health. If you’re only walking 3 steps a day, it might recommend you park further away the next time you visit Burger King. (Sarcasm) Such proprietary software will not be available on other devices until similar competing apps are developed for smartwatches. This unique value proposition could help lengthen the lifespan of fitness tracking wristbands such as the Jawbone.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Will you buy one of Jawbone’s new devices? If so, why? Let us know in the comments below.