November 3, 2014 / 4:38 PM / in 3 years

MasterCard, RBC to test if the heart is always true, for payments at least

A MasterCard logo is seen on a door outside a restaurant in New York, February 3, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian startup Bionym, maker of a wearable security device dubbed Nymi, is teaming up with credit card giant MasterCard Inc (MA.N) and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) to test whether the beat of your heart is true enough to verify payments.

The Nymi wristband, which authenticates identity by using a person’s cardiac rhythm, is designed to eliminate the need for passwords, pin codes and even keys.

The trial will allow Royal Bank (RBC), Canada’s largest bank, Mastercard and customers using the technology to test electrocardiogram-authenticated payments before the end of the year, Bionym said in a statement on Monday.

“We’re continuing to work to provide customers increased choice how they pay,” RBC head of payment innovation Jeremy Bornstein said in a statement. “Once their wristband is activated, they can leave their phone at home while they go for a run or run an errand, and conveniently and securely buy a coffee or groceries with a tap of the wrist.”

The new technology comes at a time when large retailers across North America have been grappling with data breaches and the theft of account numbers and other information from payment cards used by customers.

U.S. retailer Target Corp (TGT.N) is still recovering from a major breach last year that resulted in the theft of 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data such as email addresses and phone numbers.

Michaels Stores, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, said in May it had suffered a security breach that may have affected about 2.6 million payment cards.

In March, Visa Inc (V.N) and MasterCard launched a cross-industry group to improve security for card transactions and press U.S. retailers and banks to meet a 2015 deadline to adopt technology that would make it safer to pay with plastic.

Bionym said its Nymi wristband is the world’s first biometrically authenticated wearable payment pilot. It said it believes the technology could result in faster, easier financial payments with less risk.

The Toronto-based company recently raised $14 million in funding from range of investors, including Ignition Partners, MasterCard, Relay Ventures, Export Development Canada and Salesforce.com.

Bionym unveiled its new payment technology at Money2020, a financial innovation convention being held this week in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Peter Galloway

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