Anyone who banks online will know how difficult it can sometimes be to remember multiple passwords and pin numbers on a daily basis.
Halifax believes it could have a solution: a wristband that identifies customers by their heartbeat. Apparently everyone has a unique heart rhythm, which can be used to identify us much in the same way as fingerprints.
Customers would put the band on their wrists, which measures their electrocardiogram or ECG. The ECG data is read when a customer wears the band on one wrist and touches the top sensor with a finger on the other hand. Another set of sensors then continuously detect that the authenticated person is still wearing the band while they are using their online banking. The technology is being formulated by Nymi Band, and Halifax believes it could reduce the need for customers to remember multiple passwords and heartbeat identification could provide better security.
ECGs differ from person to person, depending on the location and size of their heart. A bracelet will only unlock access to online banking if it identifies a registered person's cardiac rhythm, so if the bracelet is stolen it can't be hacked. The technology was developed by Toronto-based Bionym.
Director of innovation and digital development at Halifax Marc Lien said: ‘Exploring innovative technology that will help deliver for our customers and enhance our overall capabilities 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, which will help us further understand how we can serve our customers in the way that best appeals to their needs.’
The band could also have other uses in future, such as tracking activity or unlocking a door. The move by Halifax is the latest by banks and building societies trialling new technology to make banking more convenient and safe. Nationwide is testing technology to allow customers to check balances on smart watches – wrist devices synced to their smartphone.
The technology could even enable customers to see their balance as part of a wake-up call and to transfer cash into a savings account with just a couple of quick taps of their wristwatch. It is also trialling contactless payment gloves, which people can use by touching the back of their hand on the reader at the till, in a similar way to making contactless payments. Since February, customers of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), NatWest and Ulster Bank have been able to log in to their mobile banking app using just their fingerprint. Meanwhile, Barclays recently announced that people using its Pingit mobile payment service can now pay each other and small businesses using just their Twitter handle.