Gone are the days when you only used your watch to tell the time, as a new wave of technology has hit the market dubbed “smartwatches”.
What are smartwatches?
If you’ve noticed everyone from your close friends to your work colleagues sporting some snazzier watch apparel of late, it’s likely that they’ve recently added a smartwatch (e.g Apple Watch, and Sony SmartWatch 2) to their gadget collection.
Smartwatches usually come with a touchscreen display and bluetooth connectivity allowing you to do some pretty impressive things like read messages from your smartphone on the go, track the steps you make, tell if you’ve had a restless sleep and some even allow you to order a pizza with the flick of a wrist. However, what the Mozo team (and we are sure you) really want to know is…
How do I bank with a smartwatch?
We’ve probably all, at one time or another, used our financial provider’s app on our smartphone to check our bank balance. This same concept applies for smart watches as you can use your bank’s app on your watch to quickly see how much you have in your bank account.
However, the difference between a smartwatch and other portable devices like an iPad or smartphone is that you generally don’t download the app onto the digital watch, instead you download it onto your smartphone that then connects with the smart watch. This is because smartwatch connectivity usually comes as a feature of the bank’s mobile banking app. For instance, St.George requires you to pair your Apple Watch with the St.George mobile banking app.
Another thing to keep in mind is smartwatches are designed to quickly show you information, so you won’t receive the same level of information as you do with other portable devices like smartphones and tablets.
Which banks offer financial apps for smartwatches?
So far only Australia’s biggest banks seem to be jumping on board, including:
Westpac and St.George Mobile Banking on Apple Watch: When the Apple Watch was launched in April 2015, big four bank Westpac and St.George (which falls under the umbrella of Westpac) were quick to announce a version of their mobile banking app for the Apple Watch. While the Westpac and St.George apps allow you to check your bank balance and find your nearest ATM or branch, they don’t give you the ability to transfer money between accounts, so you will still need to use your smartphone. With the Westpac app you can also receive a cash code for cardless ATM withdrawals on your smart watch but you will still need to use the app on your iPhone to make the request. You can download the Westpac app here.
St.George, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA on Sony SmartWatch 2: If you prefer Android technology, then you’ll be happy to hear that the Westpac owned St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA offer mobile apps that come with connectivity to the Sony SmartWatch 2, allowing you to view your balance on the go and see where the closest ATMs and branches are. But you’ll also need your mobile app if you want to conduct any transactions.
CommBank App for Android and IOS smartwatches: Australia’s biggest bank the Commonwealth Bank is also set to introduce an app for smartwatches, so watch this space. CommBank says the app will include the same features as Westpac and St.George’s app with access to your bank balance and the ability to find your nearest ATM or branch but yet again you won’t be able to transfer money using the app. It also comes with the Cardless Cash feature, which as the name suggests allows you to withdraw money without your debit card using a unique cash code.
How much do bank apps for smartwatches cost?
All the smart watch apps that fall under the Westpac brand are available to download for free. But we will have to wait and see whether CommBank will also offer its app for Android and IOS smartwatches for free when it launches later down the track.
Are smartwatches safe?
If you are worried about what will happen if by chance your smartwatch is lost or stolen, then your best bet is to check that the provider offers an 100% Security Guarantee. For instance CommBank says all features in their app for wearables range are covered against unauthorised transactions.
What is the future for smartwatches?
Big banks have more money to play with so are usually the first to introduce innovative banking technology, but our bet is as smart watches increase in popularity, Australia’s smaller financial providers who currently offer a banking app for smartphones will follow suit.
And who knows maybe it won’t be too long before Australian bank apps for smart watches allow us to “tap and go” at the checkout for purchases under $100?
So that’s a wrap of our SmartWatch 101, to learn more about innovative bank technologies, read our Banking crystal ball: What to expect in 2015 and beyond.