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

Bracelets, rings, key fobs and watches that double as credit or debit cards are enjoying a burst of popularity as COVID-wary consumers gravitate toward contactless payments.

Where it stands: While people have grown accustomed to waving their phones — or smart watches or Fitbits — in front of payment terminals, the next generation of wearables will likely be cheaper and/or more fashionable.

Driving the news: Several recent product launches point toward a future where payment features are built in to clothing and jewelry — and may include biometric features.

  • A company called Purewrist introduced a payment bracelet that comes in six colors, costs $25, and can be used to spend up to $1,000 at a time.
  • It's a linked to a reloadable Mastercard account that the wearer can manage online.
  • At CES this year, a startup called Flywallet showed off Keyble, a "small smart module that fits into bracelets, watch straps and key rings" and uses the wearer's finger image to authenticate payments.
  • On the high end, a European company called Armillion introduced limited-edition diamond-encrusted payment bracelets for men, which GQ UK says start at £38,130 ($52,000)
  • ABN Amro, the Dutch bank, allows customers shop for payment rings, watches and bracelets through its website.

Of note: Europe is way ahead of the U.S. in its adoption of payment wearables.

  • Some surveys show that smart rings, like the ones being issued by Belgium's KBC Bank, are the most popular form factor.

What they're saying: "We expect people to be using this for riding the MTA in New York or going and getting coffee, making small purchases," Suresh Palliparambil, CEO of Purewrist, tells Axios.

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."

But, but, but: Some wearables may be ahead of their time, judging from a WSJ article about mobile wallets.

  • "Problem is, many shoppers and cashiers have no idea how to use them," per the WSJ.
  • "Even those who do find the major brands are still not accepted at the U.S. stores of some big retailers" like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s.

The intrigue: Amazon is expanding use of its "Amazon One" payment terminals — which read your palm to authenticate a transaction.

  • Under Amazon's vision, a biometric identifier — the palm image — would become a ubiquitous payment vehicle.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

In photos: Protests in U.S., across the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A protest march in support of Palestinians near the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Updated 11 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Horrified": AP, Al Jazeera condemn Israel's bombing of their offices in Gaza

A ball of fire erupts from the Jalaa Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera on Saturday condemned the Israeli airstrike that destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza that housed their and other media offices.

What they're saying: The White House, meanwhile, said it had "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," according to press secretary Jen Psaki.