When it announced Apple Pay, Tim Cook showed an effective video demonstrating how easier it would be to use it than conventional credit cards. Basically, you just took out your phone and paid with your fingerprint being the authentication device. This is in contrast to multiple steps if you want to use a credit card with authentication. If you don’t mind, paying without that, it is as easy to take out a card as it is to take out an iPhone. Suffice it to say, the value proposition is in the authetication plus the ease.
Today, Bionym have announced a pilot with MasterCard in Canada that is set to go one better than Apple — from One to Zero as Thiel would put it. With their Nymi wristband, you will be authenticated by your heartbeat and then the band itself can be used for payments. So once you have the band on, you don’t have to take out your phone. That is moving the steps from one to zero by Apple’s standards. As I understand it, you don’t even need your phone. Just make sure you are near it when you put your band on, the heartbeat authenticates you and then you are good to go so long as you don’t take the band off.
Now you would think that matching this with the Apple Watch would be a great way to go. Of course, heartbeat authentication requires that some tech be built into the band as well as the watch — Apple’s watch band is tech-free. It looks like there isn’t anything there yet:
So far only one major wearable device comes with an NFC chip inside — the Apple Watch. Yes, Bionym has indeed talked to Apple about using its ECG-based authentication technology in the Watch, Martin says, but nothing actionable came out of the discussion.
Martin and his team have spent more time talking to Android device makers. Far more Android devices exist in the wild than iOS ones, and an increasing number of them have the NFC chips needed for mobile payments. So it’s more likely that Bionym’s authentication technology will show up in a wearable running the Android Wear OS.
Apple claim to have something in their watch that will do the trick but it is hard to speculate what it will be. If it isn’t a ‘zero’ step option, there is going to be considerable room for competitors to step in.