Payment sunglasses are real.
I wear my sunglasses at night so I can pay…
We know, those aren’t the exact words to Corey Hart’s classic ear worm, but they fit perfectly with Visa’s latest mobile payment pilot: Payment Sunglasses.
Announced at SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, but deployed down under at the World Surf League Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast competition in Australia on Tuesday, Visa’s wearable prototype puts mobile payment capabilities on your face.
Fifty lucky Visa partners and influencers were handed the Visa payment sunglasses, which are just Ray Bans with a built-in NFC chip (there’s no official partnership with Visa), connected to a re-loadable, pre-paid card. The prototypes can be used on virtually any contactless payment reader.
"Our intent here is to demonstrate what we all know is coming: Anything that is a connected device or can carry a chip can be a payment device, as well," said Sam Shrauger, SVP of Digital Solutions at Visa, Inc.
NFC stands for near field communications, and it’s the most common form of mobile payment technology. It requires that the payment device be within a few millimeters of the payment reader, which also means that those sunglasses must come off each time you want to pay with them.
There’s no need for battery power in the sunglasses, the NFC chip is passive and draws power from the reader.
Image: Getty Images for VISA
Can we pay with these sunglasses? Nope. These are just freebies at Visa’s SXSW pop-up house in Austin.
Shrauger noted that the payment sunglasses use mobile payment technology originally developed for Apple Pay in 2014. The security is essentially the same, as well. Each pair of shades includes Visa’s tokenization technology, which replaces user-identifiable payment information with unique, cryptographic numbers for each payment.
"There are 500 data points on the network every time a transaction comes through," said Shrauger.
There is nothing, though, that will stop someone from using the payment sunglasses if they get them off your face. You just have to contact the credit card issuer and cancel that card.
For now, though, Visa has no plans to expand the payment sunglasses program beyond the pilot in Australia.
The goal is "to show the world, that anything you can have with you at any point in time can become payment-enabled," said Shrauger.
Visa wouldn’t reveal its next payment device pilot target, but Shrauger told us that they’ve heard from several interested manufacturers.
As for Visa’s favored form of mobile payment, Shrauger said, "We’re not prescriptive about which experience wins. We want to let all flowers bloom and see what the market decides from all the ways to pay."