Feb 2, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM – edited by Justin Green — is 383 words, a 1.5-minute read.

Situational awareness: Two FBI agents were fatally shot and three were wounded while serving a warrant in a "violent crimes against children" case in Florida. Go deeper.

1 big thing: Pandemic speeds up wearable payments

Swiping in to the New York City transit system using a payment bracelet. Photo: Purewrist

Not everything has slowed to a halt during COVID-19: Wearables that double as credit or debit cards are enjoying a burst of popularity.

The big picture: Several recent product launches point toward a future where payment features are built into clothing and jewelry — and may include biometric features, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reports.

  • That includes low-cost payment bracelets, linked to reloadable accounts, that come in multiple colors and can be used to spend up to $1,000 at a time.
  • On the high end, a European company called Armillon introduced limited-edition diamond-encrusted payment bracelets for men, which GQ U.K. says start at £38,130 ($52,000)

Between the lines: Europe is way ahead of the U.S. in its adoption of payment wearables.

  • Smart rings, like the ones being issued by Belgium's KBC Bank, seem to be the most popular form factor.

Flashback: This isn't the first time that banks and credit card companies have had high hopes for payment wearables.

  • In 2015, Barclaycard and Topshop teamed up on a line of teeny-bopper accessories that doubled as payment cards (but are now discontinued).
  • Every two years, Visa uses its sponsorship of the Olympics to showcase its payment wearables, including bracelets and "NFC-enabled gloves."

What's next: The next generation of wearables will likely be cheaper and/or more fashionable.

2. Pics du jour
Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Above: Flowers outside the residence of Capt. Tom Moore, who died today in England after being hospitalized this weekend. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was receiving treatment for pneumonia.

  • Moore raised more than £33 million ($45 million) for National Health Service charities ahead of his 100th birthday last year.

Below: The Seine River is currently very flooded in Paris.

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images
3. Catch up quick

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Pandemic cuisine: The pandemic has had a strange impact on food cravings that goes beyond the joy of comfort eating, leading many to embrace foods long forgotten or rejected for taste, texture or smell, AP reports.
  2. Pair of firsts: The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation, making him the first openly gay Cabinet member to be confirmed. (Richard Grenell was President Trump's acting director of national intelligence and is openly gay, but didn't have to be confirmed.) It also confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas, who will be the first Latino and immigrant to head Homeland Security.
  3. President Biden called the GOP's current $618 billion coronavirus relief proposal "too small," but said he is willing to bend on the final price. Go deeper.
  4. Axios Re:Cap interviewed Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) on the stock market volatility and retail investors. Listen here.
4. 1 smile to go
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A snowman on the North Lawn of the White House.