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Paranoid about Your Bitcoin? This Wristband Protects It with Your Heartbeat

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

If the news anchor who flashed his Bitcoin gift certificate on air and had it promptly stolen taught us anything, it’s that you need to be careful where you store your budding digital currency. On Tuesday, Toronto biometrics startup Bionym announced a new — and somewhat paranoid — way to make sure no one else can access your precious stash: a wearable Bitcoin wallet that can be accessed only by taking your unique electrocardiography, or ECG.

You may have heard about the Nymi before, as it’s been passed around the tech blogs. It’s a high-tech wristband meant to act as a protector of many things aside from your digital currency: your credit card information, online logins, customer loyalty cards, frequent flier miles — you name it. No matter what you’ve locked up behind the Nymi, no one can access it without your unique heartbeat.

It works like this: You set it up in conjunction with a smartphone or a computer and then determine which applications, services and brands have access to your identity. Every time you sign up for a new service, the device generates a unique key. You have the option to remove a company’s access at any time. 

Bionym’s decision to integrate Bitcoin into its much-hyped device comes just a week after the very popular personal finance service Mint launched a feature that allows subscribers to watch the value of their bitcoins alongside their other investments. It’s a signal that many a tech startup is banking on the success of the still-shaky currency.

As Bionym President Andrew D’Souza explains, requiring your cardiac rhythm for access to your currency is extra safe, as your ECG is much more difficult to replicate than your fingerprint, your retina or just a text-based password.

“It’s the size, the shape of your heart, the orientation, how all the different muscles interact with each other,” D’Souza told Yahoo Tech. “It’s an electrical signal that’s based on your physiology, and it doesn’t change over time.”

D’Souza hopes that this level of security can help to stabilize Bitcoin — which is currently a $10 billion market — and make people feel more comfortable investing in it.

“We’re trying to make this currency accessible to the average consumer in a secure and convenient form factor,” D’Souza said. “We’re hoping that we can kind of be that enabling technology to help the currency take off.”

So what do you think, average consumers? Ready to access some invisible currency with your heartbeat?

You can pre-order a Nymi for $79. It’s set to ship midyear.

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