Would you wear your bank on your finger?

Jessica Satherley
Would you wear your bank on your finger?

Would you wear your credit card on your finger? 

Well, now you really can put a ring on it, and the lightweight payment devices have been making waves overseas. 

“It's obviously not a problem to pull out your card, but the ring is a talking point of exclusivity and makes me feel special,” Westpac’s Senior Manager in Digital Ventures, Mike Burke, says after obtaining one of Mastercard’s ring. 

“The biggest thing about wearing the ring is the comments I get.   

“Every time I pay with it, everyone, including the retailer, stares at it and asks what it is,” Burke, who has had it for 18 months, said. 

The curved credit cards were showcased at Europe’s largest FinTech event, Money20/20 Europe, where Burke and Westpac’s Head of E-commerce and Digital Ventures, Lewis Billinghurst, explored the designs last month. 

“Payments via wearable tech on the surface are incredibly exciting,” Billinghurst said. 

“The notion of being able to leave your house for a trip to the dairy without your wallet and/or phone is appealing. 

“In reality though, we still have low uptake of contactless technology at merchants in New Zealand. 

“This doesn’t give consumers the confidence to leave their plastic cards at home just yet,” Billinghurst said. 

As the rings are currently not available from a New Zealand issuer, any rings being used here are pre-paid from overseas issuers, a Mastercard spokesperson said. 

Mike Burke has been using the ring under the pre-paid system. 

“I load NZ dollars onto it, which are converted into British pounds on the ring.  

“I used to wear it a lot but not many places accept contactless payment here, so I don’t wear it every day anymore. 

“I would use it all the time if I could because I love that I can leave my phone and wallet behind and just walk out and grab something.  

“I've never worn it in the shower but for washing hands with soap there’s not an issue, it’s definitely water-resistant,” Burke said. 

Within the countries that issue them, the ring-tech connects to a card or bank account and can also access its wearer’s smartphone, smartwatch and smart home appliances, while some can also monitor sleep and physical activity. 

“Rather than just ring-tech, it is more about the growing trend in wearables and the different form factors that customers can now use to make contactless payments,” the Mastercard spokesperson said. 

“For example, smart jewellery, smart watches, fitness trackers.  One in five adults globally is now sporting a wearable,” they said. 

The smart rings, which contain near field communication chips or sensors, are currently being sold in selected countries across Asia, Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Africa. 

There are over 25 companies making the rings abroad and they can cost anywhere from $166 to $500 NZD. 

A Westpac spokesperson said that Westpac is constantly assessing new technologies, including wearables. 

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