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On Moscow Metro, Jewelry Is a Classy Alternative to Subway Cards

Stop fumbling with your wallet at the turnstile and wear this ring instead.
relates to On Moscow Metro, Jewelry Is a Classy Alternative to Subway Cards
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

The history of subway systems is one long string of attempts to improve the way riders pay fares. First there were tickets, then tokens. Magnetic swipe cards sped things up in their day, and tap-in payment cards came along to make things faster still. And now, in Moscow, all you need to open the gate is a little piece of jewelry.

No, the Russian capital isn’t installing pawnshops in lieu of ticket booths. It’s actually experimenting with wearable alternatives to payment cards. Since the end of October, help desks at two key metro stations have sold rubber bracelets embedded with microchips as part of a pilot project, bracelets that can be topped up with funds, and touched in and out with just like a standard metro payment card. For dressier people who fear a rubber band might clash with their outfit, Moscow has an alternative: 500 black ceramic rings, in large and small sizes, that will let you through a ticket barrier with a mere tap of the knuckle. Moscow’s Twitter feed shared some images of the rings early last month.