Halifax is exploring the possibility of customers being able to wear wristbands containing sensors which would be able to pick up their heartbeat and use this as a way of logging in to their mobile phone banking rather than having to enter a password.
The band would be connected to the consumer’s smartphone via bluetooth and as each person’s heartbeat is unique it would naturally provide a strong protection against fraudsters, Halifax said.
The wristband contains electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors. ECG data is captured when the customer wears the band on one wrist and touches it with a finger on their opposite hand.
The band authenticates the wearer when it is first placed on the wrist, and another set of sensors continuously detect that the authenticated person is still wearing the band. If the band is taken off, the ECG is re-read once it is placed around the wrist again.
Halifax is also exploring the possibility of the bands being used with computers and tablets.
The bands are at an early development stage and there are no immediate plans in the pipeline to start giving them to customers, Halifax said.
They are made of plastic, rubber and metal and are very comfortable to wear, according to the bank.
Halifax’s director of innovation and digital development, Marc Lien, said the bank is keen to explore wearable technology, adding that it “will help us further understand how we can serve our customers in the best way that appeals to their needs”.
Banks are increasingly looking at innovative ways of helping people to move their money around more easily.
Since February, customers of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), NatWest and Ulster Bank have been able to log in to their mobile banking app using just their fingerprint.
Meanwhile, Barclays recently announced that people using its Pingit mobile payment service can now pay each other and small businesses using just their Twitter handle.
Last year, Barclaycard unveiled its bPay wristband, which allows people to pay with a wave of the wrist. It has also been trialling pairs of contactless payment gloves, which people can use by touching the back of their hand on the reader at the till, in a similar way to making contactless card payments.