In a deal announced Wednesday, Fitbit (NYSE: FIT) has purchased the wearable payment assets of Coin, which include "key personnel and intellectual property specific to Coin's wearables payment platform." Fitbit said the Coin deal closed on May 12. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Fitbit has already begun to develop health bands with smartwatch-like functions. Its new Fitbit Blaze boasts all the features expected of a fitness band, plus some basic smartwatch functions including message, text, and phone alerts, GPS, and music controls. That said, a key ingredient that has been missing from Fitbit's menu is mobile payments. With Coin's payment assets now in-house, Fitbit is on its way to addressing that shortcoming.
Fitbit bulls shouldn't expect new devices incorporating Coin's payment features in the near future, as the company has no plans to utilize the technology in 2016 devices. However, CEO James Parks said the deal "accelerates Fitbit's ability to develop an active NFC [near field communication] payment solution that could be embedded into future Fitbit devices, broadening its smart capabilities."
The question is how successfully Fitbit can continue to incorporate new smart features into its devices without eroding one of their key selling points: their low prices. If the Blaze, with its reasonable $200 cost, is any indication, Fitbit will find a way. That could prove to be a monumental step to luring health-conscious consumers who want just a touch more "smart" in their devices, without the (relatively) steep price of a full-featured smartwatch.
Despite raising full-year guidance last quarter, and selling 4.8 million devices -- up 23% year over year -- following a whopping 8.1 million units sold last holiday season, Fitbit stock is down 18% in the past two weeks. That news should be music to the ears of value investors, as should the prospect of Fitbit's devices becoming smarter thanks to deals like this Coin acquisition.
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Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned.