Watch that lets you access the bank in a heartbeat

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Contributed by Gaston Bedard
Watch that lets you access the bank in a heartbeat
Julia Kollewe The Guardian, March 14, 2015
People logging on to their bank account could in future dispense with
passwords and have their heartbeat checked to verify their identity.
Halifax is the first UK lender to test electronic wristbands that sense
customers’ heartbeats in an effort to make online banking more secure.
The Nymi band, which looks like a watch, authenticates the wearer by
identifying unique electrical signals emitted by his or her heart, known as
an electrocardiogram, when it is first placed on the wrist. The technology
means that people will not need to remember multiple passwords when they log
in to their accounts. The customer wears the band on one wrist and touches
the top sensor with the opposite hand. The band authenticates the wearer
when it is first placed on the wrist, and another set of sensors
continuously detect that the authenticated person is still wearing the band.
If the band is taken off, the ECG is re-read once it is placed around the
wrist again.
The wristband has been developed by Toronto-based technology firm Bionym,
which has also trialled it with Royal Bank of Canada.
Halifax, which is owned by Lloyds Banking Group, said the technology was
superior to fingerprints or iris scans as the heartbeat is a “vital signal
of the body and, as such, naturally provides strong protection against
intrusions and falsification”. The bands are at an early development stage
and there are no immediate plans in the pipeline to start giving them to
customers, Halifax said.
They are made of plastic, rubber and metal and are very comfortable to wear,
according to the bank.
The bank will ask some customers entering its branches to try out the
electronic wristband when they log in to their bank accounts on a smartphone
or computer. A spokeswoman said: “You could fake someone’s fingerprint, but
you can’t fake someone’s heartbeat.”

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