First Click: The Jawbone’s connected to the… AmEx payment terminal

April 16th, 2015

There’s a palpable sense of futility accompanying this morning's announcement of the Up4, Jawbone’s $199 fitness tracker with NFC chip for contactless AmEx payments. It’s the ultimate niche device, catering to a market segment that, a) owns an AmEx card, and b) is willing to pay $200 for a dedicated fitness band instead of, say, a Pebble or Android Wear smartwatch like the Moto 360.

$200 would be a pittance if the Up4’s sensors were sophisticated enough to detect my melancholy and then change the song playing on my Jambox to lift my spirits. Or if it could sense my shivers, and bump the Nest thermostat a few degrees. Or detect that I’m taking a Sunday nap and wake me in time to pick up the kids from practice. Hell, it could even tell my Telsa to pull over if I’ve fallen asleep at the wheel.

It’s getting there. The groundwork is in place and Jawbone’s already collected a rich history of how millions of bodies function over time. But the interaction with the outside world isn’t a seamless experience yet for the masses. The new Up4 is just an accessory for the AmEx payment terminal, not my life.

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    The ability to double as a mobile wallet is usually reserved for pricier smartwatches like the Apple Watch and smartphones themselves. But Jawbone seems to think that its wrist-worn health trackers are the perfect vehicle for NFC payments. Today, the company is announcing Up4, an upgraded version of the Up3 (which is finally, only now about to start shipping) that adds an NFC chip necessary to pay on the go.

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