Fitness band-it Garmin adds mobe bank Starling to bonk-to-pay fold

Showing Google and Samsung how it's done

Nimble-footed Garmin has nipped ahead of industry's lumbering giants and expanded its own mobile payments offering in the UK to include "challenger bank" Starling.

Garmin's bonk-to-pay system works with any NFC-capable terminal.

Starling allows customers to set up accounts trivially on an iPhone, but Garmin hopes to have support from all the major UK banks by September. If it can pull that off, it would be impressive.

Samsung launched Samsung Pay in the UK exactly a year ago with support from about half of the big banks, but its advance has stalled: none have been added since. Barclays and Lloyds are still missing.

Rival Fitbit has also managed to get payments started quietly and speedily, boasting Garmin's two banks (Danske and Starling) plus Santander.

It's what the wearable payment market needs, given the high price of the Apple Watch (and Samsung's Gear), and the almost complete failure of Google's Android-based Wear OS to make an impact. Very few of the 40+ Wear OS devices on sale include the NFC chip needed for payments.

Garmin's Vivoactive 3 isn't cheap either – but it boasts considerably longer life and decent fitness software. Given that you have fitness data, notifications and now payments, it's hard to imagine what else you actually need in a watch. How "smart" does a "smartwatch" have to be?

We'll let you know how well it works with a real-world trial very shortly. ®

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