I love smart gadgets and have been on a mission to convert to a smart household over the years. We’ve made good progress and cannot live without our current set-up.
So when Ekster approached me to review a smart wallet, it caught my attention because I had never seen one before. I also lose my keys and other little things – in my own house – so being able to ring the wallet was a bonus.
Ekster is based in the Netherlands and sent me the Parliament wallet via the Post Office. I paid a customs fee of R28 for it to be released, which I received two weeks after it got to SA. This particular model, the Parliament, comes in brown, black, green, blue, tan, red and light pink.
The wallet came in a compact box made from recycled materials with the logo embossed on it. I’m all about packaging and Ekster nailed it with theirs. The wallet was wrapped in a thin tissue paper, like a gift, giving it an overall feel of a premium product.
I received a classic brown, which is made from genuine leather. The brand new leather smell is overwhelming in a good way – it smells like an expensive new gift, and I won’t lie, it might have been love at first sight. It also comes with a credit card sized tracker that is solar-powered.
Unlike your typical wallet, this one is vertical, which is refreshing as none of my pervious wallets looked like this. It’s as tall as your card height plus a horizontal finger width, which is an overall compact design. There are no zipped compartments for coins, which I know can be a deal-breaker for some but suits me as my existing wallets are card holders (yes, I don’t keep coins, except in my car).
The front has an embossed Ekster logo on it, just the E, and the inside flap to the left holds two cards. The main wallet itself has a card slider trigger at the bottom that fans out your cards when pressed. It holds six cards comfortably; anything more is a tight squeeze and won’t fan out properly. On top of that is a multi-purpose strap, which can hold folded cash, or a parking ticket. Lastly, at the back is another slot, suited for the tracker card that comes with.
The cards are meant to be loaded in a way that is easier for you to grab the first card/most used. I put a bank card in there, with vouchers, gym card and others following suit. I like using the inside two flaps for my ID and drivers licence, and the back one permanently houses the tracker.
The tracker card is thicker than normal and once it sits in there, it takes the shape so not advisable to put a thinner card in if you are thinking of shuffling things about. As a creature of habit, I had no intention of changing the order of my cards – only serious business here, lol. I do find it a bit too thick to carry around but it already took shape so I’m leaving it there.
The aluminium card holder section of the wallet is made with RFID technology, which protects your cards from being skimmed; i.e. it blocks all RFID scans. The tracker card is solar powered and lasts 2-3 months on a single charge, which works with Chipolo. It is compatible with iOS and Android 4.4 upwards, to link it to the Chipolo app, with a range of up to 200ft/60m. It offers two way tracking – if you open the app, you can ring the card in your wallet and if you double press the button on the card, it will ring your phone.
The Chipolo is compatible with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work with my smart speakers with voice commands but it worked via Siri on my phone. Not sure whether it could be region related but I’m told it is not.
I like how minimal and compact it is. The most important thing to be aware of is that it holds six cards in the main fan deck, and two in the inside cover. Depending on the thickness of your cards, it may not close flush. There are no coin compartments but it doesn’t bother me. If you’ve already transitioned to a smaller wallet, it is more up your alley. The trigger mechanism works fine now, but I’d have to see in a year how it wears. It would make an ideal gift.
Price: The Parliament wallet can be purchased for $79 on Eskter. They ship to South Africa.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. I’m usually unashamedly taking food photos (@nafisaeats on IG).