How do smartwatches with NFC work to pay?

How do smartwatches with NFC work to pay?

It is becoming more and more common for people to pay for certain services and products with their smartwatch or smartphone and it is really that NFC technology is growing by leaps and bounds.

This payment method allows you to make wireless payments without having to remove your wallet, making it really very convenient.

Most of the new smartphones and smartwatches on the medium and high-end market have this possibility.

In this article, I will tell you what NFC technology is, what are the uses that you can give it and why you should take advantage of it.

What is NFC?

NFC stands for “Near Field Communication” or “Near Field Communication ” in Spanish.

For this technology to work, there needs to be a device that sends the signal and another that receives it, using the principle of sending radio waves.

It basically allows different devices such as smartphones and smartwatches to easily share certain data, as long as both are equipped with NFC.

This technology evolved from RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, and although it is quite similar, it has the peculiarity that it is limited to a radius smaller than 20 centimeters. Therefore, for the information to be transferred, the devices must be held very close to each other, although without coming into contact.

It also allows you to do much more than just pay for a coffee at Starbucks, and it is also possible to transfer data such as photos, music, contact information, and videos. You can for example use it with a speaker that also has NFC to listen to music.

NFC device types

There are basically two types: the “initiator” and the “receiver”. The former begins communication and is responsible for controlling the exchange of data, while the receiver is limited to responding to requests from the initiator.

In the case of smartwatches with NFC, they are initiator devices.

NFC operating modes

For data transmission, there are two modes of operation.

  • Passive operating mode. With this way of working, only one device (the active one) is capable of sending information to another NFC device (passive) that acts as a receiver, through an RF field.
  • Active operating mode. In this mode, both devices are active and allow data to be sent and received, they can communicate with each other, and also with passive devices.

Smartphones and smartwatches are the best known and most common forms of active NFC devices.

Communication modes

To complicate things a bit more, NFC technology allows three communication modes :

  • P2P (peer-to-peer) mode.  The two devices with NFC exchange information with each other, going from active when sending data to passive when receiving it, it is a direct communication mode between devices.
  • NFC Card emulation mode. In this case, the smartwatch (or smartphone) fulfills the function of a credit or debit card, acting as a standard smartcard, allowing contactless payments to be made safely.
  • read/write mode. Here applications can transfer data according to a format determined by the NFC Forum.

To make payments with the smartwatch, it will use the NFC Card emulation method, although you will not have to worry about the method it uses. The watch takes care of that.

Payment platforms for a smartwatch

There are several payment platforms with NFC that vary depending on the operating system of the smartwatch. In addition, most of the large smartphone manufacturers have smartwatch lines that include the possibility of making payments with them.

  • Apple has the Apple Watch and they use the platform for payments Apple Pay. It is the same as that of the iPhone
  • Samsung also has the Gear S3, Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch Active, and Gear Sport smartwatches that allow this payment option through Samsung Pay. At first, its use was restricted but now it is fully operational
  • Smartwatches that use Wear OS  and have NFC technology can pay with  Google Pay, really very quickly and easily
  • Other manufacturers such as  Fitbit  or  Garmin also have platforms that allow you to operate and make payments from your smartwatch

Google Pay

Google Pay unifies the different forms of payment that can be used in Google and was born from the merger of Google Wallet and Android Pay.

It collaborates with a large number of banks and payment providers in Spain such as BBVA, OpenBank, Bankia, American Express Spain, N26, Revolut, Prepaid Financial Services, Edenred (Ticker Restaurant Card), Sodexo, among others. At the time this article is written there are neither CaixaBank nor Santander. The best thing is that you check the banks and cards admitted in Spain in this link.

And if you are not in Spain, you can check if your bank or card is accepted within the current payment methods with Google Pay in this other link.

In addition, Google Pay is accepted in many shops in Spain such as El Corte Inglés, Media Markt, Zara, FNAC, Repsol, Lidl, among many others.

How to know if your smartwatch has NFC?

How do smartwatches with NFC work to pay.

How do smartwatches with NFC work to pay.

In some cases, we will be able to see the contactless payment symbol on the back of the smartwatch, so that we will know that it is possible to use it to pay. In other cases, there are no signs on the outside but if you enter the options you will be able to see if your device accepts payments with NFC.

  • In the case of  Google Play, the application may already be pre-installed so you will only have to add your card details and complete the configuration.
  • In the case of  Apple Pay, within the “Settings” menu, you will have to add your card to your Wallet and follow the steps indicated below.
  • For  Samsung Pay, you just have to add your card. Is already installed
  • In  Fitbit Pay, you must go to the initial settings of the Fitbit Pay app and add your payment method.


Now you know what NFC technology is and how you can take advantage of it. This form of payment is easy, fast, and even fun, and it is also really very safe. I hope this article has been useful and you have solved all your doubts.

And you … do you use NFC to pay with your smartwatch? Tell me about your experience in the comments and if you have any questions, leave them below and I will answer you as soon as possible.


Leave a comment
Stay up to date
Register now to get updates on promotions and coupons.

Shopping cart