Behind the Idea: DIGISEQ

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First, there was cash. Then there were cards. But in this day and age, just about anything can be a payment device, including wearable items. To learn more, The Fintech Times spoke to David Birch, chairman at wearable tech pioneer DIGISEQ.

David Birch is an internationally renowned author, advisor and commentator on digital financial services. Principal at 15Mb, his advisory company, Birch joined the DIGISEQ board in 2021. He’s aided the company in trailblazing a number of product launches and projects.

Tell us more about DIGISEQ and its offering

David Birch, chairman at DIGISEQ

DIGISEQ’s breakthrough wearable tech gives brands the ability to transform any wearable object into a contactless POS payment device, with the world’s first tokenised solution for passive wearables.

Virtually any form factor – including rings, wristbands, and even items of clothing – can be inserted with an NFC chip and used to make contactless payments, opening new use cases in retail, venue access and brand-consumer engagement.

What problem was DIGISEQ set up to solve?

Until recently, consumers were restricted to active wearables with screen interfaces and limited battery lives. When a device, such as a smartwatch, relies on a direct connection to a cellular network, it can quickly drain the battery.  In contrast, DIGISEQ’s range of passive wearables like jewelry, wristbands and clothing items, are not battery-operated – opening up countless opportunities for brands to go wherever their customer goes, and extending the convenience of contactless payments even further into users’ daily lives.

With DIGISEQ’s technology, consumers no longer need to reach for their card or phone to make a contactless payment. It’s becoming a real selling point for fashion brands in particular, enabling them to offer stylishly designed, aspirational clothing items with contactless payment built in.

Since launch, how has DIGISEQ evolved?

Since its inception, DIGISEQ has evolved to become an award-winning IoT platform. It provides an end-to-end service that securely delivers data into everyday wearable objects. Today, we connect an entire ecosystem, serving as a centrepiece between banks, product creators, retailers, chip manufacturers and service providers.

Our platform offers businesses a seamless all-in-one solution for entering the wearable technology market, empowering them with our existing infrastructure, partners, hardware, and security systems to create wearable technology.

What has been the biggest challenge or most ‘tricky moment’ to overcome?

In the past, many businesses have been deterred from offering wearable tech due to misconceptions regarding high costs and complexities. Passive wearable tech changes all that, by combining the convenience of contactless payment, secure digital ID, and tokenisation into stylish items that consumers love.

Our innovative tech solves many problems related to chip personalisation. Installing secure, personal payment details onto a blank chip can be a time-consuming and expensive exercise for brands. DIGISEQ handles the entire process from start to finish, with no need for the brand to do anything. We can connect brands/retailers to the entire payment ecosystem and get their product approved and up and running in as little as two weeks.

What are DIGISEQ’s biggest achievements or ‘proudest moment’ so far?

Our tech is currently used in more than 300 different types of wearables from a wide range of brands, including renowned high-end designers like Phillippe Starck, wearable item brands AdornPay and many more and most recently, financial super app Curve – bringing large-scale wearable payment tech to the UK fintech’s four million customers across more than 30 countries.

Improving venue entry and payment times, combined with secure ID for a safer, more enjoyable matchday experience, last year we achieved a world-first wearable tech rollout to Spanish LaLiga giants, Real Betis – delivering 80,000 key fobs that double as contactless payment devices and season tickets to fans of the club.

Last summer, our tech was also used by Mastercard to power sustainable prepaid contactless fobs at the Roland-Garros French Open tennis tournament. Made from discarded apple skins, this was a tremendous example of how our technology is helping reduce the use of plastics, and helping companies align products with ESG objectives through sustainable, stylish and practical items that consumers love.

How would you describe the culture of DIGISEQ?

Truly disruptive. From our breakthrough mobile personalisation solution, RCOS, through to our Manage-Mii mobile app, we’re helping turn every contactless POS payment into an opportunity for banks, brands, retailers and other businesses to get even closer to their customers.

Our white-labelled Manage-Mii mobile app can be downloaded onto any Android or iOS-enabled device, enabling users to pair their bank card or prepaid account to their wearable item, bringing contactless payment to potentially millions of users worldwide.

What’s in store for the future?

By extending contactless payments beyond card and mobile phone payments, and onto items that customers wear at all times, our goal is to help businesses all over the world become more deeply embedded into their customers’ everyday lives.

As pioneers and market leaders of passive wearable payment technology, ultimately, our aim is to be the world’s largest issuing network.