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Jawbone tackles mobile payments with UP4 fitness tracker

Susie Ochs | April 17, 2015
Out this summer, the UP4 will combine the heart-tracking features of the UP3 with NFC payments by American Express. A lightweight UP2 tracker rounds out the offering.

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Most contactless payments happen with something you carry--a smartphone or a contactless credit card. But a swipeable credit card is something you carry, too, so wouldn't something you wear be much more convenient? Apple Pay is supported on the Apple Watch, and starting this summer, Jawbone's new UP4 wearable fitness tracker will support contactless payments from American Express. Just wave your wristband at a supported payment terminal, and you're done.

Besides NFC and Amex payments, the UP4 is just like the already-announced UP3, which is available for preorder and will begin to ship after April 20. Both bands are splash-resistant, long-lasting (Jawbone says you can go seven days between charges), and packed with sensors to get a more holistic look at your health, including a reading of your resting heart rate as soon as you wake up each morning. Jawbone also announced an UP2 band to replace its popular UP24--it does everything the UP24 does, only UP2 is slimmer and lighter, and available now for $100.

Why this matters: Mobile payments are a fast-growing field. Aside from Apple Pay, Samsung and Google have their own initiatives coming up, and a group of retailers is preparing a system called CurrentC. Each system needs plenty of users, strong security, and lots of places to use it. Jawbone's attempt is restricted to one card--American Express--but Amex already supports contactless payments at big locations like Whole Foods, Peets Coffee and Tea, Best Buy, Office Depot, and Sports Authority. And Jawbone's $200 UP24 band will work with more phones than Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

Jawbone's system is designed to offer privacy and security too. Amex provides a token instead of using your real card number to retailers, and Jawbone doesn't store your credit card number or get any data about your transactions. You get the same consumer protections as you would swiping your plastic Amex card, and if you don't have a card, you can even apply for one right inside the Jawbone app.

Heart rate for holistic health
Both UP4 and UP3 have four metal contacts that sit against your skin, but your heart rate isn't tracked all day. Many factors can contribute to spikes in your heart rate, like stress, eating and drinking, and of course our good friend caffeine. Instead, the bands take your resting heart rate (RHR) first thing when you wake up, before you even get out of bed.

Over time, the data about your RHR is correlated with observations about your sleep patterns and activity levels, so the app can give you actionable advice and suggestions that will coax you toward better heart health overall.


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