Britain’s Halifax bank uses Nymi
to identify in a heartbeat
16 March 2015 13:57 GMT

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The Halifax bank in the UK has been working with Canadian firm Nymi on a biometric pilot using the latter’s ECG-reading wearable to authenticate online banking.

In a ‘proof of concept’ pilot, the Nymi band records a Halifax customer’s heartbeat, which is then synced with a smartphone or other device. A Bluetooth connection to the band is then all that’s needed to login to Halifax’s banking app, because a set of sensors continuously detect that the authenticated person is still wearing the band.  

Nymi says that the "cardiac signature" its band reads is more secure than other forms of biometric identification such as iris or facial recognition technology. The device also incorporates a gyroscope and accelerometer to enable gesture control.

Halifax director of Innovation and Digital Development, Marc Lien said: “Exploring innovative technology that will help deliver for our customers and enhance our overall capabilities is a real focus for us at the bank.

We are in the very early stages of exploring potential uses for the Nymi Band and wearable technology more widely which will help us further understand how we can serve our customers in the way that best appeals to their needs.”

Planet Biometrics reported last November that the Royal Bank of Canada and Mastercard are also trialling Nymi to verify payments.    

Last week, Ubuntu also demoed a Nymi-band enabled Internet of Things (IoT) solution at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Nymi Band was used as a biometric identification device. This allowed an authorized individual to access an identity management backend, and if successful, a welcome message was communicated on  the LED display.

In February, RBS and NatWest, two major UK-based banks, announced they are to offer logins to their mobile apps with Apple’s Touch ID sensor on the iphone.

Nymi  raised a $14 million Series A round of funding last September, including investment from Ignition Partners, Relay Ventures, MasterCard and Salesforce Ventures. At the time, it already had an order book for 10,000 of its wearable bracelets.

Meanwhile, at the launch of the Apple Watch this week CEO Tim Cook noted the “incredibly intimate” feature of capturing your heartbeat and sending it another person with an Apple Watch. Speculation is growing that Apple is working on similar ideas using ECG for authentication.

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