McLear’s pioneering RingPay is an ingenious payment solution for the 21st-century consumer, putting smart technology at your fingertips
The concept for a ring that could be used to make contactless payments came about when the company’s founder kept losing his house keys. “He had the idea of creating a door lock for his home that used radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and he engineered it himself,” explains McLear’s Chief Operating Officer, Daniel Blondell. He programmed a ring to open the front door because it would always be on his person.
Once the success of the door key ring spread to developers and engineers, interest grew in using the same hardware for other purposes. RFID is the technology that bankcards use for contactless payments, and “you can programme the ring with applications such as MIFARE and do whatever you want with it,” says Blondell. The company NFC Ring was set up to bring the idea to various industries, changing its name to McLear when the founder combined forces with a partner who had the patent for this technology.
A meeting with Visa in 2015 cemented the idea of making payments with the ring, and the product was launched the following year at the Olympic Games in Rio. “That was our lightbulb moment: we realised we were doing something that wasn’t just for the engineering community, but for the mass market,” recalls Blondell. “All of a sudden, we had this global demand.”
To use it the wearer must make a fist and be within 4cm of the terminal, which ensures they cannot accidentally make a payment. The McLear ring has Visa-standard security to protect users, and like a bankcard there are loyalty features and cashback opportunities for users of the McLear app. “The only difference between us and a bank card is that ours is always accessible, sitting on your finger, and a bank card sits hidden in your wallet,” says Blondell.
The company is proud to have engineered, designed and made the product from a small office in Bradford, West Yorkshire. “It blows people’s minds when they see the ring in action,” says Blondell. “At first, it often looks like someone has made a payment just using their hand. While most of us have seen people use phones and watches to pay, a ring is still unusual.”