Munich, Germany-based fintech company Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) announced plans to launch a smartwatch in China that will primarily be marketed as a payments device, but, thanks to a partnership with longtime health and fitness sensor company Valencell, will include some health tracking features as well. China-based Z-Smart, a wearables R&D company, is building the device for G&D.
Notably, three large, but as yet unnamed, banks in China have signed on to provide the smartwatches to customers who open new bank accounts, according to the companies.
G&D recently stepped up as the lead investor in wearable payments company FitPay’s latest round of funding. Like Valencell, FitPay’s business model is to license its technology to wearable device makers, but the company was not mentioned as part of the smartwatch announcement.
G&D’s forthcoming banking watch, (which is not pictured -- no images have been released of the device yet) will use near-field communications (NFC) tech to enable contactless payments, but it will also offer heart rate and activity tracking thanks to Z-Smart’s partnership with Valencell. The device will also offer a calorie tracking feature and reportedly boasts a 30-day batter life.
"By integrating Valencell technology into our smartwatch, we are giving our customers a multifunctional wearable device that will not only help them streamline their banking and payments tasks, but will help them track and optimize their health and fitness," Xiao Wei, General Manager of G&D China said in a statement.
Valencell has a number of licensing deals with big name technology companies, including LG, Sony and more.
In March Valencell CEO Michael Dering told MobiHealthNews the company was eyeing a move deeper into healthcare.
“Right now we are pretty heavily focused in health and fitness,” Dering said. “We would like to move into personal health. We think the accuracy that gained notoriety in sports and fitness will play a major part in the personal health market, moving into first responders and military.”
At the time the company had just closed an $11 million round of funding.
In January Valencell generated more headlines by suing both Apple and Fitbit for alleged patent infringement. The company also accused Apple of deceit as well. A lawsuit filed in North Carolina alleges that Apple stole the technology that powers the heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch from Valencell, obtaining said technology through insincere partnership overtures and whitepapers downloaded under fake names. The Fitbit suit is fairly straightforward, and seeks damages for the alleged infringement of four Valencell patents.