You'll soon be able to use your Fitbit to pay for that post-workout smoothie—just not this year. The leader in wearable fitness trackers announced that it acquired the mobile payments assets of Coin, a startup best known for its universal credit card.
However, don't expect to start paying for doughnuts tomorrow with your Charge HR. Fitbit said that there are no plans to incorporate mobile payments into its 2016 lineup—which includes the Alta and Blaze, as well as the Surge, Charge HR, and Charge—but consumers should see this technology built into future devices, most likely as early as 2017.
Even though it commands the wearables market, Fitbit has seen its market share eroded by the likes of Apple on the high end, and companies such as Xiaomi and Garmin on the budget side of things. Adding mobile payments via NFC to its trackers would give it a competitive advantage, as the only other fitness tracker that offers mobile payments is the Jawbone Up4. And even that is limited to American Express.
Coin, the company behind the universal credit card, which is not included in this deal, had already been working on a payments watch, and has partnerships with wearable makers Atlas, Moov, and Omate, as well as MasterCard.
The biggest issue that Fitbit will have to contend with will be the verification process; how will it ensure that someone can't steal your Charge HR and go on a spending spree? Still, the integration makes a lot of sense, and it could be another reason to keep your fitness tracker on your wrist all day.