Meet Jawbone's new wearable tracker: UP4. It does everything the UP3 does, and you can buy things with it. Jawbone exclusively partnered with American Express allowing the UP4 to act as a payment card at hundreds of thousands of NFC-enabled merchants around the country. According to the press release, the “partnership and product launch marks the first time consumers can use a wearable fitness tracker with an embedded NFC chip for Amex payments, redefining what is possible with a 24/7 activity tracker.”
Users of the new device will be able to add an AmEx card (just one card is supported at a time) to the UP4 through Jawbone’s UP app. Then just tap the UP4 against an NFC-enabled card reader to complete purchases. If your phone is dead or you left it at home for a run, it shouldn’t be an issue — the authorization token is stored on the band itself.
The new Jawbone UP4 tracker is now available for purchase.
Although not related to health and wellness, this new feature and others like it that are popping up on wearable trackers are incredibly important to corporate wellness programs. With 70% of Fitbit users churning in less than 12 months, wearable activity trackers must make themselves more critical to the daily lives of their users. Incorporating payments is a huge step in the right direction. Greater adherence to wearable devices because of non-wellness features will benefit wellness administrators greatly by mitigating the risk of employees losing interest in or stopping use of the device.
The rapid expansion of wearable activity tracker capabilities for consumers highlights why proprietary hardware from wellness vendors like Virgin Pulse’s Max and Global Corporate Challenge’s Pulse are losing solutions for corporate wellness. Both organizations push their products for their own financial interest, but because they lack the design and broad feature set (including non-wellness features) of consumer technologies, they can’t compete with Fitbit, Jawbone UP, and other leading devices. Consumer technologies will continue to increase their value proposition to individuals as the fiercely compete for market share. This competition will lead to optimal design and broad feature sets that will focus on increasing adherence. The winners will be consumers and corporate wellness programs.