In response to the proliferation of wearable tech, Melbourne-based startup Rewardle has released its first version of a technology that will enable independent local merchants to accept payments from their customers via smartwatches.
The forecast for wearable technology looks eerily reminiscent of the period when mobile phones were making the transition from communication device to everything-device. Last year, ‘The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity’ study, commissioned by Rackspace Hosting revealed that 35 percent of Australians aged between 18 and 64 have used wearable technology such as health and fitness monitors, smart glasses, watches, clothing, or cameras, ahead of its US and UK counterparts (18 percent). Of these, 64 percent believe cloud-powered devices have enhanced their lives.
Juniper Research forecast that the retail revenue from smart wearable devices, including smartwatches and glasses, will reach $19 billion by 2018. Locally, Australian research firm Telsyte has predicted Aussies will spend more than $1 billion on wearables, including smartwatches, wrist bands and glasses by 2016. Added to that, Google’s Android Wearable OS was the star of the annual Google I/O developer conference in late June where Samsung, Motorola and LG all announced wearable devices that run on the operating system.
In just a couple of weeks of wearing a smartwatch, Rewardle Founder and Managing Director, Ruwan Weerasooriya is convinced that the devices are game changers. He said “What’s very obvious is that wearable devices aren’t just the latest tech gadgets for geeks, they will serve practical purposes and enable new experiences and engagement with the world around us.”
Always on the lookout for new opportunities, especially in a rapidly changing consumer landscape, Rewardle recognised an opportunity to leverage wearable technology. Ahead of many banks, tech giants, and fast food chains, Rewardle was quick to pre-order test devices and start working through concepts for how wearable tech could extend and enhance their offering.
Weerasooriya said, “We’ve made sure that local High St merchants are armed with the technology to take advantage of this emerging consumer trend and to our knowledge we are among the first in the country to provide smart watch users with the ability to pay for an item such as a coffee using their wearable device.”
Merchants using the Rewardle platform – including cafes, restaurants, hair and beauty salons, pubs/bars, gyms, grocery stores, day spas, pharmacies, juice bars and quick service food outlets – simply place a tablet running the Rewardle app on their counter allowing customers to interact with the tablet using a card, the Rewardle smartphone app and now their wearable device to check-in. Once checked in the customer can record their visit, collect points, redeem rewards and make payment.
On integrating Rewardle into wearable technology, Weerasooriya said, “We’re only scratching the surface with this initial iteration but as a lean startup we’ll continue experimenting and go much deeper as we learn.”
“We think smartwatches will be the “must have” gift this Christmas and in the new year the space will explode as people look to use their new devices to do things. We’re making sure that Rewardle is there for our merchants and members.”
Disclosure: Ruwan Weerasooriya is on Shoe String Media Group’s advisory board.