Nymi Heartbeat ID Bands Are the Newest Form of Mobile Payments


Nymi Band

Tugging at one’s heartstrings may finally pay off.

The latest technology from Canadian company Nymi enables contactless payment through biometric authentication with its Nymi band, arguably “the most advanced wearable in the industry today,” reports Let’s Talk Payments.

Seeing people pay for a cup of Joe by tapping a credit card is old news now. But watching people tap their wrist to make a payment using their heartbeat is a whole new ballgame.

A sensor records the electrical activity of the wearer’s heart, similar to hospital tech used for an ECG. An ECG of a user’s heartbeat becomes their unique signature for payment.

“That electrical activity is apparently unique to each individual, which allows Nymi to build a ‘Heart ID,’ which is used to authenticate the wearer and allow them to make payments using NFC, the same technology that powers contactless credit cards and Apple Pay,” reports Gizmodo.com.

Still in its pilot stage, Nymi is partnering with MasterCard and TD Bank Group to bring the technology to market. The Royal Bank of Canada launched a test earlier this year with MasterCard among 250 clients, RBC’s staff and 45 merchants.

The market is ripe for development as mainstream biometric technology in smartphones follows Apple’s implementation of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s and Google Wallet that iterated payments via NFC technology.

In fact, the market size for biometrics is expected to approach $25 billion in the next six years, according to Grand View Research.

Speaking about the prototype, Jason Davies, Head of Emerging Payments at MasterCard, told Let’s Talk Payments, “they are ensuring every MasterCard transaction on the Nymi Band to be safe, secure, seamless and convenient for MasterCard cardholders.”

Nymi is not yet selling its wristbands to consumers, but is shipping its $149 kits to the developer community to build applications around the technology and the product.

The question is whether the Nymi band takes off as a standalone product or will become the latest technology to be integrated into smartwatches.

As the digital world has moved from passwords to a range of biometrics including fingerprint, voice and face recognition, questions about security arise. “None of these technologies are a magic bullet for digital security,” notes Digital Trends. “They all fail for some people some of the time, and they all carry risks and vulnerabilities.”

“Moreover, if biometric information is ever compromised, there may be no going back,” reports the site. “After all, you can change your password, but good luck changing your thumbs.”

Maybe the heartbeat will prove to be the missing link in commerce transactions that cannot afford to be compromised.