Image source: Garmin

How the NFC Roadmap could shape the future of Garmin watches

With the newly unveiled Near Field Communication (NFC) roadmap by the NFC Forum, the future of contactless payments and data exchange, like that offered by Garmin Pay, looks set to evolve in exciting ways​. The roadmap highlights five key initiatives expected to drive changes in NFC technology over the next two to five years, with potential implications for how Garmin watches and similar devices leverage NFC.

Technology has changed many facets of life since the dawn of the digital age, including communication, transportation, and more recently financial transactions. NFC is one of the most recent innovations that has completely changed how we conduct business. In recent years, it has grown exponentially.

Garmin is one of the numerous businesses making use of this technology. It has integrated NFC into several of its watches via Garmin Pay.

What is NFC?

NFC is a type of contactless communication that allows objects just a few centimetres apart to exchange information. It connects two gadgets via electromagnetic radio waves and has became particularly well-liked for enabling safe, contactless payments.

Although NFC and Bluetooth are relatively similar, NFC is more user-friendly for rapid operations like payments. This is because it doesn’t require the same kind of device pairing that Bluetooth requires. It is a secure way to move data between devices, including credit card information. NFC is naturally more secure against distant hacking attempts since its range is constrained to a few centimetres.

Garmin Pay

Select Garmin watches come with the wallet-like Garmin Pay feature. It enables customers to make contactless payments right from their wrist. The service was introduced in 2017 and makes these transactions possible via NFC technology. Garmin Pay is supported by a number of major banks and credit card issuers, allowing users to add multiple cards to their virtual wallet.

The setup process is simple. Users can add their card information to their Garmin watch via the Garmin Connect Mobile app. Once the card is added and validated, users can make payments simply by selecting the card on their watch and holding it near the payment terminal.

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The Garmin Pay system is secure. If a user’s watch is lost or stolen, Garmin Pay can be immediately suspended. Conveniently, this is done through the Garmin Connect Mobile app. Since the actual card numbers aren’t stored on the device or on Garmin’s servers, the user’s card information remains private.

The convenience of routine transactions has substantially increased thanks to the integration of NFC and Garmin Pay. However, it is still not flawless. The bank coverage is not very extensive, especially when compared to the solutions of certain other brands. However, for some Garmin watch owners, it means they won’t need to bring their wallet or phone with them when they go on a run, bike ride, or swim.

NFC Roadmap – what lies ahead

NFC forum has recently published a five year roadmap on how NFC is likely to evolve. For those not in the know, established in 2004, the not-for-profit company is the leading standards body for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

There are a number of initiatives in the works which are likely to shape how smartwatches and other wearable devices use technology in the coming years. Big changes lie ahead.

Increased power for NFC wireless charging is one such initiative. As the NFC wireless charging specifications plan to increase power from 1 watt to 3 watts, this could facilitate wireless charging for smaller devices, potentially including Garmin watches. The change could disrupt the design of these devices and open new market opportunities​.

The roadmap also plans for increased range of NFC connections, from the current 5mm to potentially up to six times that distance. This could allow Garmin watch users to conduct faster and easier contactless transactions with less precision required for antenna alignment. Which will result in enhanced user experience that will make NFC transactions even more convenient than they are today.

The concept of a ‘Multiple Purpose Tap‘ is another exciting development. This feature will support several actions with a single tap, potentially allowing Garmin Pay users to do more than just make payments with a single tap on their watches. Use cases could include point-to-point receipt delivery, loyalty identification, and total-journey ticketing​.

Another initiative is the modernization of device-to-device communication, with a focus on enabling NFC smartphones to have Point-of-Sale (SoftPOS) functionality. Potentially, this extension could apply to smartwatches like those from Garmin, further expanding their utility and making them even more integral to the payment process​.

Finally, the roadmap highlights the expansion of NFC’s ability to share data formats needed for sustainability. This could allow Garmin and other companies to leverage NFC to share data on product composition and recycling methods, aligning with evolving consumer demands and regulatory requirements. This would contribute to a healthier economy and potentially enhance Garmin’s standing as a sustainable brand.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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