Heartbeat technology could be the key to unlocking a future without lots of passwords to remember.
Did you know that heart rhythms are unique to each and every one of us? So could they be used for identification purposes, instead of having to remember lots of passwords or PINs?
The concept has gained the attention of the innovation team here at Lloyds Banking Group, as well as the FinTech community, consumers and the wider industry. In fact, our team’s innovative thinking on this subject was recognised at the 2015 Mobile Innovation Awards, where they won Best Integration of Emerging Technology for their work.
Still, many have questions. Why heartbeat authentication? How secure is it? And, what possibilities could this innovative technology bring?
Clare Calmejane, Director of Innovation, said the team decided to focus on heartbeat authentication technology after consulting various focus groups on different types of wearable tech – which has proved to be a continuing trend. Calmejane and her team believe the technology is a great prospect, but they know that its essential to test new technologies with customers to see if they have the potential to transform the customer experience.
“Our customers expect magic,” said Clare Calmejane. “They expect their financial service providers to be as easy to work with and use as it is for them to book a taxi via Uber. It’s a really exciting time to be in Financial Service Innovation and we’re always on the look out for new technology, ideas and people to help you grow in Group Digital.”
The technology, developed by NymiTM, consists of a band and app that uses the power of the electrocardiogram (ECG) to seamlessly unlock devices, remember passwords and more, just by using our heart’s unique signature.
The complex electrical waveform created by our ECG has enough discriminating characteristics to set us apart from others. And unlike a fingerprint, passwords or PIN, our ECG is internal, and therefore even more difficult to forge – a crucial point for customers and banks alike.
“We needed to validate on the security of the technology, which was one of the things we focused on,” said Calmejane. “And we quickly confirmed that the level of security the Nymi Band provides is impressive.”
Once synced to your unique heartbeat, the band uses encrypted Bluetooth to signal the companion app on your smartphone. It’s designed to stop working if you aren’t attached to the band, and even if it’s misplaced or stolen, no one else can use it to access your secure details.
The LBG innovation team created a prototype – connecting the band to an app and designing a basic sign-up journey that allowed users to log in to their bank account. Once set up, users wearing the band could understand how they would be able to log in with just a tap of the prototype app.
“We trialed it with customers in-branch, and they liked the technology and the concept,” Calmejane said. “But, just like the bank, they wanted it validated as secure, in terms of where the data is stored – is it on the band, in the app, can someone use that, how easy is it to replicate?”
While most customers were reluctant to adopt the technology at this early stage , they agreed that there would be real potential if it became compatible everywhere they need passwords or PIN identification. There were also plenty of requests for the technology to be available through existing wearable tech, such as smart watches.
So where to next?
The technology is currently considered as more of a potential customer experience benefit, but the team sees many other possible uses – including for Lloyds Banking Group employees to log on securely at work.
It’s been an exciting project for Calmejane and her team, and they are enthusiastic about the benefits and possibilities the technology will bring. One thing is clear however – the emergence of heartbeat authentication technology could make banking even more personal than ever, allowing this essential function of daily life to be integrated with our physical selves.
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