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Halifax, a bank based in the UK, is testing out electronic wristbands that use customers’ heartbeats for authentication in an effort to make online banking safer.

The test relies on the Nymi Band, an electronic wristband that measures a registered user’s heartbeat and uses those signals as a means of online verification.

Via an electrocardiogram sensor, the Nymi Band measures the overall contours of a user’s heartwave, allowing for continuous authentication. This differs from iris or facial scanners, which require authentication every time a user wants to unlock something and which can be hacked.

Users can verify their identities by touching a sensor on the wristband while a bottom sensor measures the user’s heartbeat observed from the wrist. These sensors create an electrical loop that allows the technology to compare the heartwave contours of the wearer with the band’s registered user. It then sends the ECG data via Bluetooth to a smartphone or other paired device.

To view a demonstration of the Nymi Band in action, please click here.

Halifax is encouraging its customers to use the technology to log in to their bank accounts. However, once connected to a bank account, the Nymi Band could serve many other functions, such as allowing customers to purchase goods via contactless readers.

“Exploring innovative technology is a real focus for us at the bank,” commented Halifax’s director of technology Marc Lien. “We are in the very early stages of exploring potential uses for the Nymi Band and wearable technology more widely.”

The technology, which is a product of the Canadian company Nymi, has already been tested by the Royal Bank of Canada in a similar experiment to Halifax’s involving 250 bank staff and personnel using the Nymi Band to log in to their accounts.

Developers who are interested in creating Nymi-enabled applications can purchase the technology for US $149.

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