Barclays bPay, a £20 contactless pay wristband, given away for free in latest sign bank's wearable has flopped

 
Lynsey Barber
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Barclays launched a wristband that can be used to pay two years ago (Source: Barclays)

Barclays has started giving away a contactless payments device normally costing £20 in the latest signal that its technology efforts have failed to take off.

The bank is offering the bPay wearable band or key fob, used to pay for things with just a swipe, for free in a push to get them into people's hands.

All customers will be offered the freebie from Friday, with some offered it earlier.

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In an email to customers, the bank said: "We love making payments seamless. That’s why we’re giving you the chance to claim a free bPay fob or wristband before anyone else. And here’s the best bit – it’ll cost you absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada."

Barclays has millions of customers but did not said how many it is giving away, only that numbers were limited. It has never disclosed how many people have bought the devices since their launch in 2015. It said in February 1.1m transactions have taken place using bPay with £6.6m spent since launch.

According to figures from the UK Card Association, in April alone there were 416m contactless card transactions worth £3.9bn.

But it has has reduced the price over time. The wristband was originally £24.99, now £19.99 and the key fob is now £17.99, down from £19.99. They are used in the same way as any contactless card or mobile phone in shops and on the Tube.

Read more: Last year we made more payments by card than by cash for the first time

Barclays has preferred backing its own technology instead of working with the likes of Apple and Google as paying with smarphones becomes more popular.

It was the last big bank to sign up to support Apple Pay last year after holding out for some time and has ruled out any support for Android Pay preferring to promote its own app.

Barclays could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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