Bionym tests wristband that use heartbeat authentication to pay for things

Thursday 6 November 2014 11:34 CET | News

MasterCard and identity wearables company Bionym will test the use of wearable devices to authenticate and execute contactless mobile payments in a multi-bank pilot program in Canada starting with 2015.

In the pilot, the card-issuing banks will put the near field communication (NFC) chip normally baked into contactless credit cards into Bionym’s Nymi wristband. The Nymi band uses the wearer’s unique heartbeat to verify that he or she is the real card holder.

Existing Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) MasterCard users will begin testing the wrist-based purchases before the end of 2014, with other banks announcing participation later, the companies say.

The trial, if successful, could prove Bionym to be a viable alternative to authentication technologies like the TouchID fingerprint reader used in the Apple Pay system.

The company’s Nymi bracelet authenticates the wearer by his electrocardiogram (ECG) — the cadence of heartbeats unique to every person — when it’s first placed on the wrist. Another set of sensors then continuously detect that the authenticated person is still wearing the bracelet. If the bracelet is removed, the ECG is re-read once the device placed around the wrist again.

Bionym’s authentication technology could be baked into wearable devices that consumers buy to perform a range of functions, with mobile payments being just one. For instance, a smartwatch with an NFC chip and Bionym’s authentication system on board could perform mobile payments without the need for a smartphone.

Bionym closed a USD 14 million funding round in September 2014 led by Ignition Partners and Relay Ventures, with participation by Export Development Canada (EDC), MasterCard and Salesforce Ventures.

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Keywords: Bionym, MasterCard, wristband, heartbeat, authentication, pay, Canada, contactless, mobile, payments , multi-bank pilot, Nymi, RBC
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce