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Gotta run; my pants have discovered eBay

Jay MacDonald

In the near future, if things go as MasterCard plans, you will no longer have to worry about forgetting your wallet – you’ll be wearing it.

The major card brand made a Las Vegas-worthy splash Monday at the Money 20/20 conference when it unveiled an ambitious campaign to bring contactless payment capability to a wide variety of gadgets and other items we rarely leave home without. Like car keys. And pants.

To help nudge the device payment trend beyond smartphones and into the “Internet of things” (or IoT), MasterCard is partnering with Rihanna’s favorite fashion designer Adam Selman (clothing and accessories), General Motors (key fobs), fitness band pioneer Nymi (wrist wearables), smart jewelry maker Ringly and TrackR Bluetooth locator.

MasterCard payment gadgets

A ring, a key fob and a wristband are among the devices MasterCard wants to enable for payments. (Source: MasterCard)

Personally, I was relieved to not see Gillette, Oral-B, Frigidaire or Maytag in that lineup because frankly, I’m having quite a time keeping interaction between those gabbers at a minimum.

Here’s the plan: MasterCard’s pioneering partners will embed tiny microchips inconspicuously into their products that, once loaded with your credit card information and hooked up via Bluetooth to an app on your phone, will convert that key fob, cocktail ring, LBD or sequined clutch into a contactless payment device with the flip of your wrist or your hip; your call.

MasterCard’s Selman-designed IoT prototype dress and accessories made a positive first impression on New York Times fashion reporter Vanessa Friedman, who praised their decidedly non-Google-Glass-techie appearance.

“In fact, they look pretty retro,” she writes. “The glasses are modified cat’s eye styles with thick, Devo-like rims (the chip is in the arm); the dress, a mini 1970s empire-waisted tweed brocade with a ruffled hem and flowing bow at the bust (chip in bow); the gloves, a taxi-color checkerboard print with heavily ruffled wrists (chip on back of hand).”

And yes, she adds: as a matter of fact, you can dry clean a dress with a chip inside.

MasterCard expects to roll out its new interactive wearables/carryables in the second half of 2016, with Capital One as the lead issuer via its Capital One Wallet payment app.

How payment clothes will play on Main Street America is anybody’s guess. It’s little wonder that Americans in particular are fed up with plastic, given the widespread hackings, skimmings and assorted mayhem to which they’ve subjected us. While the seemingly endless wait for the arrival of chip cards to these shores is finally over, the point-of-sale technology is so spotty and frankly exasperating at the retail level that those who haven’t completely forsaken the card form factor have yet another reason to do so.

That said, am I ready for payment built into my pants?

Sure – as long as my Levis can’t place orders for my refrigerator. He’s never satisfied.

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