Imagining the future of “wearable payments”

Visa Europe has worked with Central Saint Martins students to develop a series of concepts for wearable payment devices.


Visa Europe has worked with students from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design to develop concepts for wearable payment devices.

The MA Industrial Design students were tasked to create designs that show how wearable payment devices could look in 2020 – but Visa says the concepts are “to inspire ideas and conversation” and are not for “mainstream commercialisation”.

Nick Mackie, head of contactless at Visa Europe, says: “We envisage that contactless technology will become a standard feature on many wearable devices by 2020; in fact, there’s no reason why the payment function on a wearable device wouldn’t become as ubiquitous as the alarm function on a digital watch.”

He adds: “Contactless is rapidly evolving from cards to other devices as payments become digitised and Europeans are among the world’s earliest adopters of these new technologies… Wearables take all that’s great about contactless – the speed, convenience and simplicity – and make it better still.”

In response to the brief, the students developed three wearable payment proposals:

Small Change



Small Change aims to help people manage transactions of smaller denominations digitally.

It allows people to collect their loose change onto one wearable device – the designers say: “At the same time keeping the tangibility that we have come to expect through thousands of years of cash usage.”

An e-ink screen shows funds available in the user’s account, and can be customised for different use cases – for example, a child-friendly design for youngsters saving their pocket money.




Budgeteer is a wearable payment device placed on the wrist that helps the user to organise and budget their expenses at the point of sale, simply by movement.

By making three “intuitive and simple” hand gestures, the user can categorise payments into three categories (work, me or home), which will be highlighted in different colours in their online banking statement.




Thread is a fashion-orientated brooch that “bridges the gap between the online and real-world self” and aims to be “an innovative interpretation of the traditional store card or brand loyalty scheme”.

The brooch has been designed to be issued in conjunction with particular brands or stores, and the aesthetics can be altered to reflect that. The designers say a finger vein scanner ensures safe purchases through a sophisticated, yet tiny, biometric authentication system.

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