Forget your bank PIN: Halifax trials technology where customers are recognised by their heartbeat

Author

Richard Dyson

March 13, 2015

Halifax is testing new biometric technology where customers will prove their ID through the unique rhythms of their heartbeats

Halifax is believed to be the first British bank to trial technology which will allow customers to prove their identity through the analysis of their heartbeat.

Strings of passwords, login codes, PIN numbers and memorable words that we are all required to recall could be consigned to history.

Instead, bank customers of the future could wear slender bracelets which measure the intricate “cardiac rhythms” unique to every person.

The technology has been developed by Canadian firm Bionym.

As with today’s existing contactless card technology, the bracelet, called a “Nymi”, will communicate with a checkout till or cash machine to allow the customer to pay for goods or draw money.

The firm claims that this new “cardiac signature” will be a highly secure form of proof of ID: more secure than other forms of biometic identification such as eye-scanning or facial recognition technologies.

“In a world passwords and pin numbers, the Nymi Band will allow you to wirelessly prove that you are you to the world around you,” Bionym claims.

The technology could have countless applications, experts say, including giving workers access to offices or to unlock and start cars. It is also predicted to appeal to governments who could use it to secure border posts, public transport and other facilities.

It could also be used to control numerous electronic devices around households from alarm systems to TVs.

But so far banks seem to be the most interested. The BBC has demonstrated a Halifax transaction using the Nymi bracelet, which works by creating a circuit between the user’s wrist and their finger.

The user has to place their finger on a small metal plate on the top of the band. The current passes through to the wrist below, checking the user’s “signature”. This is then matched against one previously stored on a database.

So far Halifax is using the technology as a way of allowing users to log into their bank account via their smartphone. The process means they don’t have to key in any PIN or other security details.

Halifax director of technology Marc Lien said: “Exploring innovative technology 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.”

Rival banks are trialling other, albeit more basic, forms of wearable payment systems . Thousands of Barclaycard customers are currently trialling bPay, a rubber payment bracelet which incorporates a small card. This works like any contactless payment card for transactions under £20 and for use on London’s transport network, like an Oystercard.

The bPay band can be linked to any bank account – it doesn’t have to be a Barclays one – where it can be topped up automatically when stored funds run low.

This article was written by Richard Dyson from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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