Kerv readies its long-awaited payments ring with Mastercard tech

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After two years of development and fundraising, Kerv Wearables says it is launching the Kerv Ring as a contactless payment device using a Mastercard prepaid account and the card brand's EMV chip technology.

The London-based company revealed last August that it was starting production of the payments ring as a result of a successful Kickstarter campaign that started nearly a year earlier. After delays, Kerv's Kickstarter page was taken down in January of 2017 due to an intellectual property dispute; the Kickstarter page remains offline as of this writing.

According to Kerv, consumers using the Kerv ring can link the wearable to a Mastercard prepaid account to make payments at merchant locations accepting Mastercard contactless payments worldwide.

In the past, Kerv expressed an interest in getting Visa, PayPal and American Express on board as supporting payment options. During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Visa used a rival technology provider to offer an NFC-based tokenized payment ring to athletes competing for Team Visa.

It essentially sent the signal that it was more likely to compete with Kerv because not long after the Olympics were completed, Visa made its own payment ring with secure chips from Gemalto and the Visa Token Service available to the public.

A year ago, Kerv was planning on mailing rings to its supporters, but said its production schedule was delayed through manufacturing and technical processes that needed more time, as well as continued negotiations within the payments ecosystem.

"Our aim was to develop a desirable wearable item, that does not obviously look like a piece of technology," Philip Campbell, founder of Kerv Wearables, said in a message on its website. "We believe that the Kerv ring makes people’s lives easier – whether that is commuting to work on London underground, buying a coffee, or paying for a round of drinks.”

The Kerv ring is designed to operate through Near Field Communication enabled terminals. It does not need to be paired with a smartphone and comes with an accompanying Mastercard plastic card for higher value transactions, online purchases or cash withdrawals. The ring can make payments up to £30, and users can turn it on and off, manage the prepaid funds and receive transaction alerts through text messages or e-mails.

Consumers can purchase a Kerv ring, with designs for men and women, on the website for £99.99 (U.S. $121).

In the past two years, technology and payments providers alike have increased research and development of payments wearables, bringing products like the Apple Watch, Barclaycard's bPay band and other devices to market.

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