Biometric wristband piloted by Canadian bank

The Royal Bank of Canada has begun a pilot test of a NFC-enabled version of Nymi – a biometric wristband that uses the cardiac rhythm of the wearer to authenticate the user’s identity.

Speaking to NFC World, a Royal Bank of Canada spokesperson explained that the Nymi wristband would be specially modified for the pilot: “The Numi band currently uses Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate to devices. For the pilot we will be fitting a Nymi band with NFC to do contactless payments.”

The Royal Bank of Canada’s head of payments innovation, Jeremy Bornstein emphasized the surprising flexibility of the device, which taps into the unique cardiac rhythm of the user for identification. He said that once the customer’s wristband is activated, “they can leave their phone at home while they go for a run or run an errand and conveniently and securely buy a coffee or groceries with a tap of the wrist.”

The Nymi wristband remains authenticated until the user removes it. Venturebeat explains that the technology authenticates the wearer by his or her electrocardiogram when it is first attached to the wrist. Sensors then continue to monitor the wrist to ensure the person is still wearing the bracelet – if it’s removed, the electrocardiogram is read afresh when placed on the wrist again.

This hassle-free security system is a big draw of the product, according to the Andrew D’Souza, president of Bionym, the company that develops the device: “Payments is a great use case for persistent identity, because making the experience seamless for consumers is just as important as providing the trust and security that only you can authorize a payment with your account.”

The trial will work with the Royal Bank of Canada, and MasterCard, First Post reports, but the technology can also be used to replace “passwords, pin codes and even keys.”

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