"Ah, that is just beautiful … just beautiful." Jason Bradbury, Titan of Tech, is unboxing his Kerv contactless payment ring. It's the Black Fire edition: lustrous black zirconia ceramic exterior with an inner band of high-gloss deep-red polymer. The ceiling lights ping off the ring's curves and contours as, like an entomologist with a wondrous new discovery, he slowly and deliberately rotates it between thumb and forefinger. His eyes are wide – but that may just be the trademark futuristic white specs. He slips it onto his finger. "Ah, yeah…"
Carluccio's, Richmond. A Thursday morning in June. Chris and Phil from Team Kerv are hand-delivering Jason's Kerv Ring, and it's uncertain which of the three is most excited about the meeting: Jason, because he's been desperate to get hold of a Kerv Ring since it launched on Kickstarter; Chris, because he'd give his right arm just to shake hands with Jason Bradbury; or Phil, because he's hoping to have a go on Jason's electric skateboard.
With Kerv Ring unboxed and on-finger, Jason asks Phil how it works. Phil explains that there's a secure payments chip embedded in the ring, connected to an NFC antenna – much like your average contactless payment card, but much smaller and in an innovatively different shape.
Keen to get a round in with his shiny new Kerv Ring, Jason activates it there and then on his iPhone, using the unique code in his ring box. The activation process links his ring to a virtual prepaid Mastercard®, which stores funds and means that Kerv Ring is welcomed at over 6m retail locations worldwide that accept Mastercard contactless payments. Jason's Kerv Ring is ready to go faster than you can say large skinny soy mocha, hold the whipped cream and sprinkles – oh, and give me one of those tasty almond croissants with that … no, not that one – the other one … yeah, that one.
TV's Jason Bradbury is a busy man, so after loading his Kerv Ring and taking it for a spin in front of a speechless barista (tea for Jason, Americano for Phil, latte for Chris), he jumps on his electric skateboard, promising to road-test his ring and report back. An auspicious meeting. Everybody leaving with exactly what they were hoping for. Except Phil.
Shoreditch, two weeks later, and Jason's as good as his word. He's lived with Kerv Ring for a fortnight. And he's liked it. A lot. So much so that he's agreed to meet with Chris again (this time with Dean, another player on Team Kerv) to film a piece for his YouTube channel.
First stop: Rapha, Spitalfields Market, the trendiest coffee/cycling-clothing-and-accessories shop you'll ever find. Men in tight shorts with big calves and bigger beards lounge outside the cafe/bike-fashion-and-sundries emporium. They're talking about cycling. All at the same time. It's the caffeine.
Inside, Jason sets up his shots with his camera wizards, Stuart and Harrison. Jason's already trendy enough in his sequined robot jumper (and has all the ultra-stylish cycling gear a man could ever need) so democracy prevails and they film Jason getting the coffees in with his Kerv Ring. And it's good coffee too, so definitely the right decision.
Next stop: Brick Lane, and Jason's with Dean, Kerv Ring's designer, in the Cereal Killer Cafe. It's a magical place, and after spending waaaaaay too long checking out the vintage cereal collection (think Pac-Man, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Mr T, all in sweet, crispy, crunchy form) they get on with the matter in hand: talking about Kerv Ring's design. Dean explains that he wanted Kerv Ring to be stylish, thin and unobtrusive, rather than just another clunky lump of tech – black or white zirconia ceramic (as found on the space shuttle and in nuclear reactors) on the outer face, with seven different colour options for the inner. What Dean doesn't explain is that he compares the styling and contrast of Kerv Ring's inner and outer faces to that of a good suit: well-fitting, smart and low-key on the outside, but with the potential to go nuts with the lining … you know that lime-green silk with purple checks lining is under there – and it makes it distinctly yours – but nobody else really needs to know about it. But he definitely was thinking it.
So far, the questions have been easy. Too easy. So Dean's not surprised when Jason throws in a curve ball by asking what happens if someone pinches his ring and does a runner. Unphased by the rapid change of conversational direction, Dean explains that all he needs to do is log into his account and switch off his Kerv Ring. Job done. Then it's back to design questions, such as what's next for Kerv Ring beyond its current ceramic form? Dean's reluctant to give much away about future Kerv Ring designs, but hints at the possibility of the use of exciting new materials … which may well also be used by NASA and the nuclear industry, but doesn't want to say as much on camera until he's done a bit more R&D…
Keen to demonstrate that Kerv Ring is useful for more than just buying coffee in a convenient and casual manner, Jason trundles along Brick Lane to the Brick Lane Bookshop, to buy a book about Brick Lane.
He also buys a book by stand-up genius Stewart Lee, which takes him perilously close to the £30 limit for a contactless payment ... but it all works out just fine in the end.
After a fortnight with his Kerv Ring, Jason's got the knocking gesture down to a fine art, and it takes longer to ask if they take contactless than it does for him to make the payment – a payment accompanied by his final word on today's topic: "Boom!" … which is a massive step up from the industry-standard "beep".
Watch Jason's excellent video on Kerv Ring on his YouTube channel – and don't forget to Like and Subscribe.
- Get all the trendiest cycling gear from Rapha – and excellent coffee.
- Enjoy a mind-crushingly vast array of tasty grain-based goodness at the Cereal Killer Cafe.
- Buy books about Brick Lane (and many other subjects) at the Brick Lane Bookshop.
- Big thanks to all of the above for their help, patience and enthusiasm.
- And finally ... get your very own Kerv Ring from the Kerv Store ;-)