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Heartbeat as security

38British bank Halifax is testing electronic wristbands which can use the customers’ heartbeat to verify their identities. The heartbeat technology envisages making passwords, PINs and memorable words redundant in the banking security system. Halifax will be the first bank in Britain to test the technology, which will mean that people will not need to remember multiple passwords when they log into their accounts. The Nymi band, which looks like a watch, authenticates the wearer by identifying the unique electrical signals emitted by his or her heart, known as an electrocardiogram, when it is first placed on the wrist. The customer will have to wear the band on one wrist and touch the top sensor with the opposite hand. Another set of sensors will detect whether the person is still wearing the band, and shut the device down if their heartbeat is not recognized. The customer will have to check his or her heartbeat pattern on a computer and store it on the wristband. Then he or she needs to pair the band with the smartphone, using a banking app and Bluetooth, so whenever he or she wants to do banking, just put on the wristband and it automatically connects with the phone. The system has been developed by Toronto-based technology firm Bionym, which has also trialled it with Royal Bank of Canada.

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