DressCode launches shirt that makes contactless payments
DressCode has launched the world’s first digital payment shirt.
Called CashCuff, the embedded technology – it’s a chip that looks like a SIM card – allows you to pay for goods using contactless tech directly from the cuff of your shirt. You simply swipe the cuff of your shirt, where a chip is inserted in small fold, and off you go. Goodbye wallet, goodbye purse.
At least, that’s the outcome, but to make a contactless payment using your shirt involves a little more effort, as I found out when I was offered the chance to road test the new clothing tech.A quick vox pox made it clear that there was concern about whether you could accidentally make a payment to another party near the contactless payment point. In fact the card is less easy to activate than a conventional credit card.
“The chip uses near field communication – NFC – just like the chips on a bank card,” explains Sheng Wu Peh of the product development team at Digiseq, the London-based company that provides DressCode with the ready-to-use chips. “When it comes to the smart chips, these are only manufactured by a small number of companies such as Infineon, NXP and Gemalto. They have to go through rigorous testing and approvals. Digiseq’s role in this is primarily provisioning, we have an over-the-cloud platform that helps deliver payment credentials into the chips embedded within wearables. Product creators like Dresscode are more customer-oriented – they have to think of a way to integrate this chip into their product such that it’s user-friendly and durable.
“They get triggered by the electromagnetic waves emitted by the merchant’s point-of-sale terminal, and communicate with the terminal. Then the terminal relays this to the payment processing network.”
Andy Boothman, DressCode’s founder, explains that the CashCuff payment requires the user to put the shirt cuff right up against the payment device’s screen.
“The biggest impact of having such as small chip is the antenna,” he says. “With the present, conventional, card it’s not just the chip you’re looking at – the whole card acts as an antenna, so that card can operate from quite far away.
“Digiseq has got round the issue by having a gold band round the sim card which acts as the antenna, but bank cards work four times the distance. The traditional card has six inches of antenna, the CashCuff has four inches in terms of the field it’s generating.”
Setting your account up is pretty straightforward: you download an app called MuchBetter and transfer funds from your bank account to the app. You get a chip number with the shirt, put the chip number into the app – and then your chip and your bank account are linked.
Once you’ve mastered the close-in cuff swipe, you’re flying. DressCode has created a revolutionary shirt range, and the shirt designs are gorgeous to match. The eight options on sale now are Algorithm, DNA, Space Invader, Cursor, Pixel, Signature, Glitch and Binary. The shirts on their own are priced at £97, the CashCuff-enabled shirts are £135.
Having started off with shirts – “I spent a lot of time finding the right material, the right cut, fit and many other aspects of the shirts, we work closely with a family-owned business co-located in Mumbai and London, there’s a lot of FaceTime calls as production has neared!” – Andy is considering expanding.
“The technology exists in jewellery,” he points out, adding that other clothing options could be considered. By the way, DressCode has its own tailor who will travel to where you work so your shirt can be custom-fitted.
So how about if you accidentally wash the shirt?
“It’s not the end of the world if it goes through the washer but you wouldn’t want to be washing your credit card and it’s the same thing here,” says Andy. “We’re still very much at the beginning of a big transformation curve for how we buy and pay for things – cash is no longer the main way to pay.”
CashCuff links to a whole new level of potential in the smart clothing sector.