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TD Bank taps into biometric wearables with payment functionalities

TD Bank is joining forces with MasterCard and authentication technology firm Nymi to roll out the first biometrically authenticated wearable device that identifies users based on their heartbeats and allows them to make contactless payments.

TD Bank is enabling 100 users in Canada’s Toronto, Ottawa and Regina areas to pilot the Nymi Band and its contactless payment functionality, suggesting that wearables would be well-poised to offer a commerce aspect. The brands’ combined efforts at making a splash in the wearables space hinge on the unique aspect of identifying a user based on his or her heartbeat.

“This is an important step forward for wearables as it demonstrates a major industry’s (FinTech) understanding of their potential,” said Shawn Chance, vice president of marketing and business development at Nymi, Toronto, Canada. “The concept of ‘secure, continuous authentication’ is new to the market and presents several opportunities for end-users as well as marketers.

“Particularly within an ‘Internet of Things’ context, imagine a future where the devices and services you choose can recognize you without any of the friction currently associated with proving your identity (passwords, PINs, etc). That’s the vision we at Nymi are working towards.”

Easy wearing
The Nymi Band’s automatic identification capability is the first of its kind, and eliminates the need for users to enter a PIN code or use Touch ID verification to authorize a purchase. The device taps Nymi’s proprietary HeartID technology, which pinpoints consumers based on their electrocardiogram.

Customers may link their MasterCard to the wearable and use the Nymi Band to make contactless payments using NFC terminals found at many retailers across the United States.

Consumers will likely respond well to this feature, as it saves time when making purchases at stores and does not require them to carry a wallet or smartphone on their persons when running errands. Including a commerce aspect in the wearable’s technology is a smart move for TD Bank and MasterCard, as it enables them to slide their foot into the competitive sector while offering real utility to their customers.

“The response from our current pilot users has been very positive,” Mr. Chance said. “Of course, there is the novelty of making payments in an innovative way which comes with new form factors such as the Nymi Band.

“Beyond that, however, we have also been hearing praise from users and merchants for adding both convenience and security to credit card transactions which will help reduce fraud.”

TD Bank has been in the process of updating its mobile efforts to better serve digitally-savvy consumers with desire to access banking features while on-the-go.

Last December, the brand rolled out its first mobile application for tablets to reach a wider target audience of consumers looking to conduct online banking on personal devices (see story).

The wearables frenzy
MasterCard realizes that contactless payments and wearables are becoming more popular in the Canadian market, and seeks to establish a stronghold via its partnership with TD Bank and Nymi. Other credit card companies may be quick to jump on the bandwagon and capitalize on the increased potential for users to make impulse purchases.

While mobile payments are still gaining adoption among merchants and consumers in the retail sector, many companies are looking ahead to deduce how wearables will affect mobile commerce.

However, brands are likely banking on more merchants and bricks-and-mortar shops rolling out additional NFC terminals to support contactless tap-and-go functionalities.

Brand marketers also need to start experimenting immediately with more personalized advertising models to take advantage of the significant communications opportunities presented by wearables that connect individuals physically to the Web, according to a report from Mindshare and Goldsmiths University of London (see story).

“Pilots like this one with the Nymi Band, TD Bank and MasterCard are an important step forward towards eventual adoption at the consumer level,” Mr. Chance said.

“We see a bright future for this technology within the payments industry (among others) as consumers become more comfortable with wearables, biometrics and as the contactless payment infrastructure continues to evolve at the merchant level.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York