Nymi Band uses your heartbeat to secure mobile payments

Al Sacco

Today, Nymi Band is available only as part of a $150 developer kit, and that version doesn't include an NFC chip, so it cannot be used for payments. Martin says his team is not currently marketing the device to consumers, though it has many potential consumer applications. Instead, Martin says Nymi is focusing on the enterprise, where multifactor authentication is increasingly important.

"In enterprise, where security matters, multifactor authentication is a requirement, and all the tools, to be honest, suck," Martin says. "We're in this position where the market is really ripe for multifactor authentication applications that work across physical and logical access. It's our primary area of focus today."

Nymi also hopes to eventually build its authentication tech into popular wearables from other manufacturers. "You should expect to see Nymi technology inside other wearables as well," Martin says.

How Nymi payments stack up to the competition

The Nymi payments concept is similar to using Apple Pay on the Apple Watch, but in theory, it should be more secure because it use a unique biorhythm for authentication. The Apple Watch needs only to be unlocked and to remain in contact with its wearer's skin to make Apple Pay purchases.

Martin says Nymi is more convenient than using a smartphone for mobile payments, because you don't need to take a device out of your pocket or launch an app. Nymi's system could be more attractive to banks and financial institutions because it does not want to become a middleman, he says. "We're different than Apple because we're not trying to get into the middle of the transaction. Banks will see that as an attraction, instead of having to go to a new model."

Nymi's goal to have its technology embedded in other popular devices means it potentially could be used for all sorts of authentication purposes in addition to payments and basic device unlocks. Of course, the pilot is really just a proof of concept at this point, and Apple Pay is much more widely available than Nymi Band. 

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