Quontic Bank recently launched a tap-to-pay mobile payment ring that customers can link to their checking account and use to make purchases at any POS terminal that accepts contactless payments.
While payment rings have been around for a few years in countries like Australia and the UK, Quontic claims its product is the first-ever contactless payment ring on the US market.
The Quontic Pay Ring is only available for customers who have a Quontic checking account. The bank is offering the ring for free for a limited time, after which it will cost $29.
Quontic says the ring is water and scratch-resistant, and durable enough to get through day-to-day use. It runs without a battery and doesn’t need to charge, and can also be disabled if lost.
The bank says users can make payments with the device by curling their fingers “as you would if you were going to knock on a door, but do it over the payment terminal.”
Source: Quontic Bank
So, does the Quontic Pay Ring sound cool? It sure does.
But how practical is it? And more importantly, does it offer enough to convince people to switch to a payment ring when they already have contactless payment options like cards, smartphones, and smartwatches?
I spoke with Steve Schnall, founder and CEO of Quontic Bank, to hear his responses to these questions, as well as to get some more details on the ring.
Quontic says it’s the first financial institution in the US to launch a payment ring. Why did you take on this ambitious project? What was the thought process? Can you share the story behind it?
To make a mark. As far as the genesis of the Quontic Pay Ring, we didn’t follow our standard process for how we develop our products, which is somewhat arduous and research-heavy. We followed our process for how we innovate. Innovation starts with a spark. And that’s exactly what happened when we came across a wearable payment ring while at Money20/20 in Europe back in 2019. Two years later, that spark has led us to the release of the Quontic Pay Ring. There were a bunch of challenges along the way, given that Quontic is a regulated financial institution with traditional core backend systems. But, we pulled it off. Super proud of the team.
The Quontic Pay Ring runs without a battery and doesn’t need to charge. How exactly does it work?
Similar to a contactless plastic card, the Quontic Pay Ring is made out of zirconia ceramic and draws power from the NFC reader itself to make the transaction. It was important to us that this product didn’t force people to think about things like charging a battery. And it’s waterproof, too.
Is there currently a demand for wearable payment devices in the US? Do you think consumers would be willing to switch to a payment ring when they can already pay contactlessly using cards, smartphones, and smartwatches? What does a ring offer that the existing options don’t?
We haven’t seen data that directly demonstrates the demand for a wearable payment device. We’re first to market, and we believe we can create the demand. Our ambitions are not to replace America’s wallet or smartphone. And while most banks seek to be “front of wallet”, Quontic’s ring will be the first “out of wallet” wearable payment device.
The Quontic Pay Ring is functional and fun, and can be used to make purchases ten times faster than via swipe or chip reader. It’s a new way to pay, and there are plenty of use cases where it can play a primary role. Some of the core demos range from avid runners and outdoorsy people to folks who are into fashion.
How did Quontic decide to settle on the $29 price tag? Will it be enough to generate revenue in the long term?
In the long term, we’re hopeful it will. Since this is an initiative born from our spirit of innovation, revenue is not the primary objective for us. In fact, in the short term, it may even be a loss. But we’re okay with that, as long as we become the digital bank that got people into wearables.
We’re excited to see where this goes. Being the first, we get to ride the wave just as it’s developing. Where will the wave crest? Will a wearable, like a ring, replace the plastic cards in our leather wallets? Why not?
Behind Square's upgraded Square Stand POS system
First introduced back in 2013, the Square Stand is an iPad point of sale system that gives merchants a way to accept payments and access business insights and analytics on one device.
Why did Square upgrade its hardware? And what exactly does the new device offer?
The two biggest new features in the Stand are built-in contactless and chip card payments, and a “customer-driven” checkout process that’s designed to be simpler and more streamlined than past processes. The system accepts all major cards and Apple Pay and Google Pay mobile wallets.
According to Alyssa Henry, head of Square’s Seller business unit, the upgrade addresses the evolution in shopping behaviors since the Square Stand first arrived back in 2013.
“The new Stand was built with the future of commerce in mind. Square Stand provides sellers of any size – from boutique retailers to multi-location restaurants – with a versatile command center for their business. It offers sellers an integrated way to meet the purchasing preferences of today’s consumers.”
The Stand swivels 180º so that the iPad doubles as a customer display, allowing customers to review their purchase, pay tips, and redeem loyalty points.
In addition to supporting Square’s vertical POS offerings, which include Square for Restaurants and Square for Retail, the Square Stand can be used by sellers for their employee management needs, such as time tracking, shift scheduling, and tip management.
The new Stand is cheaper than its predecessor — users previously had to pay $169 for a Square Stand package that included a contactless card reader, but they can get the new Stand with built-in contactless payments for $149.
Although there are no account creation, installation, or contract fees, vendors using the technology are charged a 1.75% fee per transaction by Square.
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What we're reading
- PayPal and Venmo to increase instant transfer fees in the US (TechCrunch)
- Bank of America wants its cards made of 80% recycled plastic by 2023 (Banking Dive)
- Mastercard to link all employee bonuses to ESG goals (Reuters)
- Boston Red Sox go cashless (PYMNTS)
- Affirm and Poshmark expand partnership to offer payment flexibility (Crowdfund Insider)
- Brex bets big on software, lands DoorDash as a customer (TechCrunch)
- Stripe bids to kickstart carbon removal industry with Alphabet, Meta, Shopify and McKinsey (Finextra)
- Deserve launches commercial credit card as a service program (Finovate)
- Adyen plans iPhone Tap to Pay for its US business customers (Apple Insider)