Mobile payments may be all the rage right now, but the Canadian based startup Bionym is betting that some consumers will want to actually wear their payment source.
The company has developed a wearable device called the Nymi that reads a user’s electrocardiogram, or heart rhythm, for identification. Because a person’s heart rhythm is unique, just like a person’s fingerprint, the wristband can act as a key of sorts, allowing one to use it to authenticate their identity in a variety of situations.
“So it authenticates your identity, and once it knows who you are you can use it for things like unlocking your devices, bypassing passwords and pins, including making payments,” said Karl Martin, Bionym’s CEO and co-founder.
Bionym recently partnered with MasterCard and RBC for a pilot trial slated to launch early next year that use the Nymi band to verify NFC payments with the tap of a wrist.
While paying with a smartphone often requires a PIN number or fingerprint authentication, the Nymi band enables a wearer to make a payment by wearing the band because the identity is tied to the cardiac rhythm of the user, which makes the payment process seamless, Martin said.
“The key thing we are offering here is this concept of persistent trust. The idea that if you are paying with your phone, you are still having to do something to prove who you are, whether it be with a fingerprint or a PIN. By wearing something, it can persistently know who you are, and interactions like payments or unlocking your devices can become completely seamless. So it’s really this concept of persistence, and this technology of using your cardio rhythm allows us to do that,” Martin said.
The Nymi won’t be the only wearable device that can make payments, though. The Apple Watch, which is expected to become available early next year, will include the Apple Pay system. However, because Apple Watch will pair with older iPhones that do not have the TouchID feature, the biometric verification is not required to make payments with Apple’s new watches.
Image Credit: Bionym