Today’s consumers can transact at a growing number of merchant locations using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology with mobile devices and a variety of payment objects including smart watches and wristbands, jewelry, key fobs, stickers and more.

Cardholders are excited about the possibilities. According to a November 2018 CPI Card Group survey of over 500 debit and credit card users, 65 percent find the idea of tapping an “object” appealing*.

Consumers are also ready to employ payment object technology in a wide range of scenarios. Eighty-one percent of respondents to CPI’s survey like the idea of using a band or fob to house event tickets, while seven out of ten would use a payment object at the gas pump, grocery store, and for public transportation*.

As the world becomes increasingly connected, the rise of payment objects represents a natural evolution in convenience, versatility and speed. Whether buying a sports drink at the gym, grabbing a coffee on the road or hustling through a subway turnstile, consumers seek a frictionless, seamless purchase experience.

To wear or not to wear

The term “payment object” refers to any portable device, article or item that a consumer can use to transact a payment. Payment objects can be wearable and include smart watches, rings, wristbands, hats, or they can be non-wearable and include portable objects such as travel mugs, water bottles, and key fobs. Payment objects contain technology, such as a chip and antenna, app or data that allows them to be used for paying for goods or services.

A payment object consists of two parts: the technology and the form factor. Typically, the embedded technology is a micro-chip and antenna. Leading payment technology firms have reduced and regulated the size of the chip and antenna combination to accommodate form factors as small as key fobs and silicone bracelets, and as convenient as clothing and coffee mugs.

Payment objects work within both closed-loop and open-loop payment networks. Closed-loop systems incorporate those payment methods that can be used at only a single location, event, retailer or vendor. A wristband loaded with multi-day festival or season tickets, which allows attendees to gain entrance and purchase concessions and merchandise onsite, is one common application of closed-loop payment objects.

In contrast, open-loop payment systems, such as those incorporated into Apple Watch and Samsung Watch, may be used anywhere contactless payments are accepted. The user simply loads their debit or credit card into the app or digital wallet and can then wave or tap their device at the grocery store, coffee shop or big-box retailer.

Is it time to offer your cardholders the convenience and versatility of a payment object? To learn more about CPI’s contactless, dual interface and payment object solutions, visit us at:



* CPI Card Group quantitative study of 529 debit and credit card users between 18 and 65 years of age, November 1-2, 2018.

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.