Smart devices

Contactless Payments Have Never Been Easier: K Ring Review

k-ring-review-contactless
Betty Joita

Some of you might remember that, about a week ago, I got introduced to the K Ring and even spoke a little about it with Dean Leybourn, creative director for K Wearables. 

I was skeptical, to be honest – not because of what he told me about it but simply because that is my nature. How can a contactless payment card in the shape of a ring make my life easier?

The ring arrived to me in a simple, compact box that contained a small booklet.

I got mine in the Black Ocean color variant – the outside band of the ring is black, while the inside is a bright blue. The rings come in different color options: white and black for the outer band and a multitude of other colors for the inner band.

Incidentally, the black option was a perfect fit for me – I am well-known for wearing a lot of rings, lots of them quite chunky, so the simple dark band was almost inconspicuous on my fingers, something I instantly liked. The last thing I wanted was for people to know that I am wearing my money on my fingers. 

Light as a feather

What I immediately noticed about the ring as I put it on was how incredibly light it is. 

Imagine my surprise when, only minutes after wearing the K Ring, I completely forgot I had it on and was getting ready to do the dishes. You can totally do the dishes and wash your hands while wearing it, by the way: it’s completely waterproof.

Easy setup

Aside from wearing Steven Tyler-worthy amounts of rings, I also multitask a lot. So I figured if I manage to set up the ring in the amount of time it takes for my coffee to brew, that’s a plus.

Unfortunately, the K Ring doesn’t yet benefit from an app but K Wearables has confirmed to me in an email that they are working on one. Until then, if you do purchase one, you’ll have to rely on the good ol’ web browser both to sign up for an account as well as transfer money onto the ring and check your balance.

The good news is that my coffee only started boiling in the pot a while after I had already set up the ring.

The process was swift and it registered me for a Virtual Prepaid Mastercard account, which is responsible for storing the funds linked to the ring (the K Account does not store the funds itself, by the way). I also linked the ring to my bank account and I was ready to go.

Fast Support and even faster transfers

Transferring money from my card directly to the ring was almost instant, and instant gratification is what we’re all about in this day and age.

However, bank transfers will take longer, so if you choose to go that route for some reason, it will take a couple of hours, if not more, depending on your bank.

I feigned the laziness of someone who has not thoroughly read the manual and sent in a question about my money not having come through via bank transfer after a few hours had passed.

To my surprise, not only did Support explain why that might be happening but also chased down the transfer and, minutes later, my ring had received the funds I was waiting on.

Of course, I don’t encourage you to message Support just to make them chase the funds for you, not when it’s clearly stated in the manual that bank transfers might take a while. Don’t be that guy. Let me be that guy who has done it once, for the sake of an honest review.

I’ll tell you why: receiving professional, quality Support is essential in the times we live in. I, for one, am quick to judge a company’s standards for everything, based on how their tech support interacts with the users.

As far as K Wearables is concerned, they get an A+ from me: not only was Support swift to answer my (albeit ignorant) query, they kept it professional and the way they addressed me didn’t border on the stiff language of a finely-tuned machine – they were also friendly in tone, something that I greatly appreciate.

Security is key

I am paranoid when it comes to contactless cards, I’ll admit it. So I was a little worried about someone stealing my funds, considering they were resting on my finger, out in the open.

So I employed the use of a mobile card reader to grasp on just how fast the transactions actually are (spoiler: ridiculously fast and easy) but also to see if it’s easier for people to steal money from the ring.

There were a lot of attempts and after we tried everything we could think of, one thing was clear: unless someone came as close as about 1,5 inches (4cm) from your hand with a card reader or a similar device, they wouldn’t be able to grab a single cent out of you. Not to mention they would look very, very suspicious trying to do it.

Besides, if you do lose the ring or it gets stolen, all you have to do is access your account and turn it off.

Phil Campbell, founder of K Wearables further explained to me in an email just how hard it would be for anyone to try to steal your money without actually ripping the ring off your finger.

The terminal must be ready to accept a transaction …and is only in this state for a short period i.e. 10 seconds. Thus the fraudster needs to be aware of the location of the ring, set-up the terminal for a transaction, then approach the wearer within 4 cm and hold the terminal next to their hand / finger.” Campbell told me.

He also went on to add that K Wearbles monitors all transactions and “assesses their likelihood of it being a genuine transaction. We cannot disclose the rules in place, but these do stop rogue transactions. We also benefit from being able to combine our intelligence with others to further eliminate rogue transactions happening.

He assured me that “If a rogue transaction does occur, then the consumer is protected – the same with any contactless card issuer.”

The ring also has an interesting perk: it will very, very rarely, if at all, allow a transaction to go through unless the hand gesture described in the manual is used.

According to Campbell, it’s important that both the ring and the terminal’s fields are aligned: “The “sweet spot” in terminals varies based on the manufacturer and their design.” Campbell explained to me “It is possible that the ring will work when presented in a range of different ways, but the optimal is to have the ring parallel to the terminal – hence why we recommend the gesture.”

And yes, you guessed it – this alignment also acts as a barrier between the ring and anyone who might attempt to steal your money.

Into the wild

After I went through all the preliminary tests, it was time to see how the ring fared in real life.

I dropped the ring by mistake a couple of times while trying to take the photos for this review, on pretty hard surfaces and, much to my surprise, it didn’t even chip or scratch.

Being the creature of mayhem and destruction that I am, I dropped it again, on the pavement outside, this time intentionally and again, nothing happened to it. I even faked falling off a motorcycle (with super lightweight dirt biking gloves on, full disclosure) with the ring on, on the asphalt, and the ring was fine.

After all the stress tests, I did what normal people do and bought coffees, paid for bus rides and groceries.

My favorite reaction regarding the ring happened at a coffee shop where I was asked by a wide-eyed barista “where did that come from?“. Paying with the K Ring is definitely a conversation starter, I’ll tell you that.

The best thing was that I didn’t have to go through my bag to look for my wallet when paying for things. Now all I had to do was touch and go, literally, and be on my marry way.

I liked it more than I thought I would – with just a simple touch, I was done. Not to mention I didn’t have to worry about my wallet and check my pockets a thousand times whenever I was out without a bag or a backpack.

The ring? I barely know it’s there at all.

Albeit, it was a bit of a hassle to keep track of the funds because I didn’t have an app to help me with that. However, this is definitely not a deal breaker.

All in all, any trace of skepticism I had is gone – I enjoyed the ring more than I initially assumed I would and I love how easy it is to purchase things with it throughout the day.

It makes my increasingly busy days easier, as it allows me to glide through the payments effortlessly, even if my arms are full of bags or documents or I am in full bike gear.

Ever since a week ago, the ring has become part of my daily life and though it might sometimes look out of place next to the chunky rings in my collection, it is now a valuable member of the ring family that rests on my night stand.

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