The idea of paying for things with our fingertips is taking hold, thanks to the likes of the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6’s efforts to bring the authentication tech to the masses. But one Canadian company is already looking ahead.
Toronto-based firm Nymi has created a band which can authenticate users using a person’s cardiac rhythm, and it's already successfully allowed Halifax users to sign into their online banking accounts in a trial run.
The Nymi Band measures and records the electrical activity of a user’s heart and, combined with a Windows, iOS, Android or Mac app via Bluetooth, allows people to confirm their identity.
Our hearts create electrical impulses generated by the polarisation and depolarisation of cardiac tissue, creating a unique waveform - essentially a fingerprint for the heart - and it’s this signal which ECG readers like the Nymi Band, can detect.
In its current state you simply touch a sensor on the band with one finger while it’s strapped to your opposite wrist, and we can’t see any reason why the technology can’t be used to authentic contactless purchases in future. As you can imagine, it’s also much harder to fake than a fingerprint or cracking a password, and offers higher levels of security.
The Apple Watch, in tandem with Apple Pay, already lets US shoppers pay for items with a simple tap (or at least, it will, when it hits shelves on 24 April).
While it’s more convenient than whipping out a wallet, you have to enter a 4-digit code each time you wear the Apple Watch to authenticate it to make payments - and that’s after you’ve authenticated the Apple Pay app with your fingerprint.
Sure that all adds up to just a few seconds, but being able to authenticate payments directly with an ECG band will be faster, and more secure than a 4-digit code to boot.
We’re still quite a way off from buying crips with our hearts, but with testing already taking place in the Royal Bank of Canada and Halifax, we’re definitely on the right track.