Introducing Wearable RFID the Goal of World Cup Promotion

Discussion
Jun 15, 2006
Rick Moss

By Rick Moss


Proponents of RFID technology are generally finding themselves in an uphill battle in the U.S. as trading partners grapple over standards and volley with consumer groups over privacy issues. Perhaps what’s needed is the “killer ap” that will spark the kind of demand that suddenly brought stardom to the iPod, effectively making the argument over the commercial viability of digital tunes a moot point.


According to an RFID Journal article, it’s smoother going in Asia in terms of consumer adoption of RFID technology due to the region’s role as an RFID manufacturing center, so it’s not surprising that we’re seeing many more creative applications of the technology directed straight at consumers there. For instance, RFID-enabled devices, ranging from passive cards to cell phones, are now used by commuters to help speed their way through fare transactions in some Asian mass transit systems.


A recent promotion, if not the holy grail of the RFID-enabled crusade, may point to some future possibilities. The campaign is all geared toward FIFA World Cup soccer fans, who
are presently enthralled with matches now underway in Germany. For a fee equivalent to about $74 U.S. dollars, customers receive a Chinatrust FIFA card and a sporty Laks PayPass
wristwatch (along with a 5-inch commemorative soccer ball and other World Cup “swag”).



The watches incorporate high-frequency RFID chips compliant with MasterCard’s PayPass specifications
for data encryption. That enables the wearer to make purchases when PayPass RFID readers are present (400 locations in Taiwan and 30,000 worldwide).


Elevating convenience to a new level, the watches allow for purchases of under $25 to take place without a signature and avoid the need to fumble through pockets and purses for
credit cards, fobs or other devices.


The promotion, on through World Cup finals ending July 9, required a creative collaboration involving MasterCard International, Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Austrian watchmaker
Laks and RFID payment device provider On Track Innovations.


Moderator’s Comment: Do you see trendy consumer electronics gadgets, such as RFID-enabled watches, as potentially driving the wedge to adoption of RFID
technology in the U.S.?


When eCommerce made its debut way back in the ’90s, many were doubtful that consumers would ever get past their squeamishness over entering credit card
numbers online. But ultimately, the convenience and empowerment that forward-thinking online retailers provided left concerns in the dust. It sure is interesting how quickly worries
disappear when you can save someone 15 seconds here and there. (And hey…it’s a cool watch, too.)

Rick Moss – Moderator


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6 Comments on "Introducing Wearable RFID the Goal of World Cup Promotion"


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Al McClain
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Al McClain
14 years 8 months ago

This type of consumer promotion could do a lot to ease consumer concerns, as it familiarizes them with the benefits of the technology and they see (hopefully) that nothing bad happens when they use it, like stolen records, data loss/exposure, etc. Some large consumer promotions like this could be enough to create a tipping point, as early adopters start talking to their friends. Doesn’t help with issues in the retailing industry, though, such as read rates, tag standards, etc.

E Allen
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E Allen
14 years 8 months ago

I’m in the IT industry and can see how RFID technology can be EASILY abused. I do not want to see TV ads being displayed for items related to items that I have purchased and currently have within my residence. I can also imagine a tech-savvy thief using the RFID technology to help them choose which house(s) to break into.

Until there is a more fool-proof way to guarantee my privacy, I’m against the RFID technology.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 8 months ago

A large national-circulation magazine recently published an in-depth analysis of the pro’s and con’s of the RFID technology as it exists today (maybe a good discussion topic, George?). This appears to be a complex technology with complex consequences. I have not yet seen proponents and detractors of RFID openly discussing in a non-emotional way these bigger issues. Trying to push adoption of this technology in a way that is not open about the issues and in a way that doesn’t address them (such as trying to lure consumers with gee-whiz electronics) may put RFID proponents in the unfortunate position of looking like there is something to hide, and is likely to make it harder for this technology to be put to use. Call it unwitting self-sabotage, perhaps. Putting all the information out for all consumers to see and understand seems a much better approach.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 8 months ago
First, a proviso. Bear in mind that this watch may be popular with a specific group of people i.e. football fans. Far be it from me to stereotype them in any way but just perhaps they are more amenable to gadgets and less susceptible to paranoia or privacy concerns than other groups. BUT… for a lot of people the combination of convenience/time saving and bribery/cool accessories will always be a winner. I’ve just been reading about the online communities recruited and created by CPG companies. Participants are fully aware that they are talking to the company as well as each other but apparently appreciate the fact that their views are being solicited and taken notice of. Having an audience, and rewards, is apparently another winner although, again, you are addressing a very well targeted group. Maybe the bottom line is that, as Al says, if you get the right early adopters and they’re warm and safe, they will spread the word. Forcing things through, as has been done here with chip and pin, can easily… Read more »
Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 8 months ago

I would encourage U.S. retailers to tread softly on RFID as consumers here can be very different than in Asia for example where they are a RFID manufacturing center. Privacy concerns are significant and seem to be growing with more frequent reports of loss of private information by numerous companies and government agencies.

RFID technology needs to show a consumer benefit and have significant safeguards established that are universally recognized by retailers, manufacturers, government agencies and privacy organizations.

I tend to wonder if people know what they are really getting and perhaps giving up when they purchase these trendy watches.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

People love convenience, especially when it’s low cost convenience. Anyone with an automobile wireless toll booth transponder (called a variety of names in various places, such as EZ Pass, etc.) who can breeze through toll stations at 55 MPH loves RFID in that context. Get a “free” watch? OK, that’s attractive to some people. But many proposed RFID applications have minimal consumer benefits. Because of the costs, RFID often doesn’t show a clear financial benefit to the retailers or CPG manufacturers, either.

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