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Halifax testing heartrate security to unlock online bank accounts

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Nymi Band

UK building society Halifax is testing a scheme which would allow users to log into their online banking accounts using heartrate data.

Using a wrist-loaded wearable called the Nymi band, which measures and stores heartrate information, users can ditch their password or fingerprint sensor.

Wearers must touch the sensor on the Nymi with one digit, while the device touches the skin on their other wrist. This logs the heartrate patterns using the band’s built-in ECG.

They can then pair the wristband with their iOS, Android, Windows or Mac device using Bluetooth technology. Once the companion Halifax app is able to authenticate the unique heartrate data then users will be allowed into the application in order to do their banking.

The scheme (via Wired) is currently at the proof of concept stage, but Halifax feels it may provide users with greatly improved security compared with the current methods of logging in online.

After all, anyone can guess a password, your fingerprint isn’t impossible to copy, but it sure would be touch to replicate a user’s ECG data.

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Marc Lien, Halifax’s director of innovation and digital development 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.”

michael diamond

March 14, 2015, 9:13 am

Great idea, but ECGs are dynamic, and change over the years. A single point monitor on the wrist would only contain one vector point, which doesn't give much data. Moreover if you've a concurrent illness that pushes your heart rate up, that'll differ from your original "fingerprint trace". I'm not convinced it won't be without inherent flaws.

Oh and many drugs (legal and illegal) impact the electrical signaling. So If you start a new medication it's quite possible the trace will change.

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