Nymi testing biometrically-authenticated wearable payments with MasterCard, TD

The wearables market is beginning to pick up steam, and Toronto’s Nymi is already working on the next generation of wearables technology with a pilot project to complete credit card payments using a wearable with the credentials biometrically authenticated by a heartbeat.

Nymi has been developing its biometric authentication wearable technology, which uses a heartbeat as a unique biometric identifier and maintains the authentication as long as the wearable is being worn. As soon as it’s taken off – or the user’s heart stops beating – the authentication ends, making it a unique approach to security.

This summer, Nymi has been working with TD Bank Group and MasterCard to pilot using the Nymi Band to make contactless payments using a TD Bank Mastercard with the credentials stores on the wearable. Using Nymi’s proprietary HeartID technology as well as a Nymi Band prototype enabled with near field communications, 100 TD employees in Toronto, Ottawa and Regina are testing making payments using the contactless Tap & Go payment terminals already at many Canadian retailers.

“We’re leveraging the existing infrastructure available in 90 per cent of Canadian retailers for Tap & Pay,” said Shawn Chance, vice-president of marketing and business development for Nymi, in an interview. “It’s a closed pilot with 100 TD employees using the Nymi Band to make contactless MasterCard payments. RBC will be launching later this year.”

For MasterCard, taking part in the wearables payment pilot with Nymi and TD is about staking out ground in the next frontier that is wearables technology, and supporting a Canadian company like Nymi with its biometric authentication technology that adds a layer of sophisticated security to payments.


TD Bank describes the relationship with Nymi as exploratory, and part of its effort to improve the customer experience by rolling out new digital enhancements, such as cheque deposits from a mobile device.

“As adoption of new and innovative mobile payments options become more popular, taking part in this demonstration further demonstrates our commitment to meeting the evolving needs of our clients,” said Chuck Hounsell, senior vice-president for payments with TD, via email.

By the time the pilots conclude, Chance expects several thousand payments to have been made in the wild. He added they’re only doing small closed pilots right now so Nymi and its partners can learn some lessons before advancing to a consumer trial or the mass market. Pilots will continue through the rest of the year, and then Nymi will make a decision with its partners about where to go next.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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