Inspired by the latest in payments tech, DressCode’s CashCuff shirts seek to elevate efficiency and add an extra layer of innovation to the payments sector.
We spoke to firm’s founder, Andy Boothman on how the concept came to be, as well as why customer protections is at the heart of what they do.
PaymentExpert: Can you tell us how exactly the concept of the CashCuff came about?
Andy Boothman: The CashCuff initial inspiration came from our audience data, there was a clear connection between our customer persona’s and the adoption of wearable tech. The DressCode business and the designs of all our shirts is inspired by tech, expressing tech in all it’s many forms, so having wearable tech within the shirts felt like the obvious next step.
The issue we had to wrangle with was what function should that tech take? I mean, let’s be honest, we’re all surrounded by tech in pretty much every aspect of our day to day lives. What we didn’t want to do was add to that noise, so we took a step back and thought long and hard about what was it that a shirt could do? Was there something that would bring genuine convenience to the wearer? This wasn’t an easy question to answer, so we started looking at what people were doing whilst wearing our shirts, talking to our customers about their daily habits.
Contactless payments were a large part of the daily commute, it was also the way many people got lunch, picked up some shopping and a host of other things throughout the day. This got us thinking, imagine being able to pay for things directly from your shirt.
We tried a few things, many people think that you can just chop credit cards down and insert the chip into things, there’s a lot more to it than that. The chips themselves are pretty useless without the antenna – that’s what makes up the bulk of the space on your card. So we started our research into the contactless system, looking at what could be done to reduce the size, what had already been done and seeing who were the authorities in these areas.
From there we started talking to suppliers, people who had it been done wearable payments before. We had loads of questions… What kind of security would we need? What form would the chip take? There was a lot to consider and explore, we felt that the potential was strong with the right technology partners. It was a steep learning curve, we are a shirt company first and foremost, our research played out and I’m pleased to say that we’re working with two great companies to deliver the tech in a frictionless system that’s super secure.
“Let’s be honest, no one wants cash, it’s a pain to deal with, you only have to look at the amount of payments made via contactless”
PE: Some would argue that this is just ‘a bit of a gimmick’ but do you feel there is genuine scope for our clothes to become part of the payment experience?
AB: Let’s be honest, no one wants cash, it’s a pain to deal with, you only have to look at the amount of payments made via contactless, and the frustration when someone can’t pay contactlessly either because it’s outside the current spending limits or they’re using physical cash.
Life isn’t getting any slower, having quick and easy way to pay feels like a natural evolution. Clothing offers the most scope for this in our opinion, we wear clothes all the time, we use them to protect ourselves and express ourselves, so why not put the items we wear to additional use with new technology?
Don’t get me wrong, you can do this type of thing from your phone or smart watch, but, and we think it’s a big but, this just doesn’t feel natural. For one, your spending even more time starring into the screen of the device, it’s highly likely that they’ll be some sort of notification on that screen that will draw you away from the here and now, adding to your digital distractions and probably upping your stress levels too – both of which we were keen to avoid.
Two, the process of holding a phone or watch against the terminal just feels strange, cumbersome and just not a fluid customer experience. For us, having ‘cash’ to hand in your clothes means that you’re still in the moment, enjoying the experience, undistracted by your phone, engaging with another person – you’re putting your hand forward, in the way that we have done for centuries, it’s an open gesture, your body language is saying let me thank you as you pay for the items.
There’s also a much greater opportunity for eye contact, creating a human to human real-life experience, creating some of that social glue that binds all of humanity together.
The third and last point is all about security, paying for things from expensive phones and watches is not always such a good idea in a public space, there’s a major security risk as you announce to everyone around you what phone you have.
I think the same can be said for paying with cards that are within wallets, again you announce to the world where you have those items stored and there’s the associated security risk. If your clothing contains the payment process there’s no security risk, they are your clothes, you’re wearing them, there’s nothing outwardly obvious, no visual clue that this is a payment device.
I appreciate that it might all sound a little sci-fi, but when you look around at what we now take for granted in everyday life – phones, the internet, transport…pretty much every aspect of our lives has taken huge strides forward over the past 2 decades, why not evolve our payment mechanisms?
Systems like the CashCuff actually give you greater spending control as you can limit the amount of money available, you have full details of everything that you’ve bought – no need for receipts, which is also good for the environment, reducing paper and printing, you will have full electronic records that are secure, allowing only you to track and trace your spending.
PE: How was the response been so far?
AB: Overwhelmingly positive, people love the idea that they can pay for things directly from their shirt – no phone or wallet required. It’s really convenient and much easier to manage than cash, you’re never going to be searching through your pockets for a note or coins, when you have cash to hand in your shirt.
The website traffic is up 223% since the launch of the CashCuff, we have existing customers upgrading and new customers who are keen to have this type of utility in their everyday life.
PE: When creating this type of product, what type of security is in place to ensure customer protection?
AB: We believe that the customer protection is the most important part of the whole CashCuff system. There’s no point having a slick way to pay for things if the security around it isn’t up to scratch. As I said earlier, we went to the best in the business for our technology and that brings first class security with it.
For example every CashCuff chip has it’s own unique identity and activation code, we operate a pay forward system, so you control the financial exposure, there are no credit card details on the chip itself. The allocation of funds is controlled by the multi awarding winning MuchBetter platform. The chips themselves are sourced and programmed by Digiseq, a company with the highest accreditations from the world’s leading payment providers.
Should you lose the chip it can be shut down in seconds via an app and can be reactivated just as easily. One of the questions that often comes up is about the ‘skimming’ of cards. This really is an urban myth, the digital payment system is extremely closely controlled, every contactless terminal is registered to a business, if someone should gain unauthorised access to that terminal any funds they ‘skim’ won’t go to them, but to the registered keeper of the terminal. In the case of the CashCuff the security is heightened even further as the chip is in your field of vision most of the time, literally on your wrist.
We believe convenience is the real driver in the world of payments, we wanted to deliver a solution that ‘just works’, something simple and easy to control, that’s always on hand when you need it, backed up with the best security available.
PE: Where do you personally see the future of payments going?
AB: As I’ve said above, convenience is the driver for payments, having frictionless technology to hand in ways that feel natural and human, allowing the speed we all crave but maintaining those really important inter-personal reactions is where I see it going.
Cash will become a thing of the past, digital payments are safer and more secure. For those who want to manage their spending closely, pay forward systems like ours really helps, for example if your budget is £60, putting that on to the CashCuff is safer and more manageable than going to a cash point and drawing notes. At all times you’ll know how much you have spent and what’s left. I’m sure that we will see payment wearables becoming ever more sophisticated and I’m looking forward to being a part of that journey.