The quirky high-street accessories range is making contactless payment fashionable, but will it really change the way consumers shop? WGSN reports
Topshop has teamed up with Barclaycard to reimagine contactless payment, from an obscure tech concept to a fashionable must-have. The bPay and Topshop collaboration is a range of accessories, from wristbands to smartphone cases all created with a small bPay contactless chip in. The chip then links to a secure digital wallet, so that customers can tap and pay wherever they see the contactless symbol.
The move is a brilliant way to engage the shopping public with the idea of wearables, and make it even easier for consumers to make their purchases. The collection of accessories are also nice and small, making them ideal to shop on the go, from your lunch break to after-work drinks.
“I’m totally sold on this. Or, more specifically, sold on the key ring,” says WGSN Global Chief Content Officer Carla Buzasi. “My current key ring is my Triyoga pass, which I scan whenever I head to yoga classes, meaning I can leave everything bar my keys and yoga matt at home. It’s not rocket science, it’s just easy, and if it was easy and looked pretty – my Triyoga pass is a small plastic tag with a bar code on it! – I can’t see why I wouldn’t use it. Going forward, I expect more of these collaborations, and pretty fast, as other banks and fashion brands – both high-end and high street – jump on the bandwagon.”
Wearables are definitely a talking point in the tech world, but so far they have lacked a fashion edge, with consumers seeing them still as high-tech rather than high-fashion. But the tide is slowing changing. Back in September, London designer Henry Holland teamed up with Visa for his SS16 catwalk show at LFW. Smart jewellery: rings that lit up and Perspex smart brooches were used as payment tools to buy the rest of the collection.
This latest bPay x Topshop collaboration reinforces that the tide is changing, using accessories to make payment chips seems accessible, fashion forward and fun. The accessories in addition to wristbands, also include bright, bold, fun stickers that people can attach to key items.
“The Barclays x Topshop collaboration is a savvy way for Barclays to engage consumers and raise awareness of the new bPay method. What we are looking at here is a piece of good PR. It’s a smart strategic partnership to help get this new payment method publicised,” says WGSN Head of Market Intelligence Lorna Hall. “These fun, emoji styles suit the retailer’s demographic and you only need to look at the success of Anya Hindmarch’s emoji stickers to see there’s an appetite for this style. But really this particular line of product development is all about garnering bPay column inches in newspapers and as wide a social reach for its new service as possible.”
In addition to this range, bPay has also teamed up with the Scottish Knitwear brand for men Lyle & Scott, inserting payment chip into jacket sleeves.
Banks, fashion retailers and the tech industry is clearly committed to bringing wearables to the mainstream. That said, there is still more that needs to be done before they succeed with that goal.
“These sort of accessories do have a future but it’s more likely to be specifically tied to an event and be multifunctional acting as an id or entry card as well as a wallet. Earlier this year payment bracelets were used at Download making it the first cashless music festival for example.
From a day to day payment point of view fashion accessories are hampered by the fact that we want to change them on a frequent if not daily basis,” adds Lorna Hall.
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