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Armed with NFC, the Kerv smart ring works like a contactless credit card

While the One Ring may have had its moment in the sun (and the fire) within J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Kerv ring will stay in your life in a much more convenient and less dangerous way. Heralded as the “world’s first contactless payment ring,” this clever little device can make fashion statement even as it connects to your bank statement.

The brain child of Philip Campbell, the London-based startup has just launched its Kickstarter campaign. Having reached $76,137 from 1,060 backers with 23 days left to go, it seems that this smart payment option will be achieving its goal.

According to Kerv’s Kickstarter campaign, the payment ring can be used “anywhere in the world that displays the contactless payment symbol, which was over 38 million locations, last count.” It works by way of its Near Field Communication (NFC) payment chip, which is embedded in the ring and is activated “when brought close to a contactless reader — at retailers, in taxis or on public transport.”

This means that in the same way that you can now tap your credit card, you can just flash your ring, and the encrypted data stored in the NFC chip will authorize the transaction. Assuming you’ve adequate funds in your prepaid Kerv account, you can easily make a payment and track your balance.

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Your Kerv account, which can be set up online, works very much like a debit account, with the ring drawing funds from this store of liquid assets. The best (or worst, depending on your spending habits) part is that you’ll only be able to make payments via Kerv if you have enough money in your account. This prevents overdraft fees and burgeoning debts, and may also help in keeping you honest when it comes to your shopping sprees.

And as for other safety and security issues, Campbell assures users that Kerv can “only make a payment within a very small radius of a contactless reader, to avoid any unintended transfer of data or funds.” Calling the ring “as secure as … Chip & PIN” systems, the Kerv team also notes that “because Kerv never leaves your finger, the risk of cloning or theft is significantly reduced.”

But it’s not just payments. To date, Kerv is also compatible with “NFC-controlled locks and security systems, information sharing with NFC-enabled smartphones, and one-touch access to London’s public transport system.” And moving forward, Campbell told Bloomberg that his team hopes to develop a “digital wallet with a much smoother user experience and then connect that to multiple hardware devices.” So stay tuned for that one.

Until that day comes, though, we should all be able to agree that a contactless payment ring is a pretty sweet idea. After all, who doesn’t want a piece of jewelry that does more than stand still and look pretty?