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May 26, 2015
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First West Credit Union has introduced Dashband™, the first wearable payment accessory in North America to use Visa payWave® technology. Dashband™ allows wearers to pay for purchases with the ease and security of contactless payment technology, eliminating the need to swipe, insert, sign or enter PIN numbers.

First West is unveiling the band in a limited release as it explores ways to bring innovative banking solutions to its membership and the marketplace.

“Introducing new technology is one of the ways we can create value for members,” says Bryan Mavrow, senior vice-president of marketing at First West. “Wearable payment accessories is a rapidly emerging area that pairs well with our commitment to making everyday banking simpler.”

Using Visa’s payWave®, a contactless payment technology, the Dashband™ eliminates the need to use cards, signatures or PIN numbers for purchases. To make a purchase, the band need only be placed near—or “tapped” on—a contactless payment terminal. Reloading the band with funds can be done simply through the credit union’s online banking portal.

Doug Ebner, the credit union’s lead innovation architect, sees the band as being ahead of the curve of consumer demand.

“We’ve been tracking the tap-and-go payment trend from the start and it’s clear that contactless payment is becoming an expectation of consumers,” he says. “For us, it’s an opportunity to create more convenience and ease for our members when it comes to payments.”

Wearable technology started coming into vogue with bands geared for fitness buffs. But Ebner and his colleagues who form the credit union’s innovation think-tank saw a broader potential early into the trend. The team envisioned the band being a perfect fit for runners, hikers, busy moms and their tweens, time-challenged commuters, and even those who struggle with point-of-sale PIN pads.

“We’re now at the point where wearable technology is evolving into experiments with multi-purpose accessories like Apple’s watch, which is tethered to your iPhone,” says Ebner. “But we believe there’s a need for a simpler, more straightforward payment accessory that meets the need of busy people everywhere—and for which the only requirement is a bank account. The Dashband™ pairs nicely with our market-leading Simply Free Account™.”

The opportunity to get out of the gate early as wearables continue to make inroads is something Ebner has savoured.

“Our commitment to innovation and doing things differently to create value means we need to seize opportunities quickly,” he says. “We’re already looking down the road and asking, ‘what’s next?’”

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