Bitcoin will be getting a whole lot easier and more secure to use later this year. Bionym announced today that the first application for their heartbeat authentication bracelet, the Nymi, will be a Bitcoin Wallet. The app will be available on each device when the Nymi is released later this year.
Bitcoin, the Internet’s currency, has quickly made its way to the mainstream. The decentralized system now has ATMs across Canada and is starting to be accepted as a form of payment for goods and services and a number of businesses and non-profits have started to accept this currency.
The Nymi Bitcoin Wallet is a huge step in making Bitcoin safer and more accessible to the masses. The identity bracelet will use its ECG-based security system to remove a lot of the friction which stands in the way of mass adoption for Bitcoin and could change the future of this digital currency.
As a peer-to-peer system, Bitcoin employs the use of public and private keys. The public key is the one you send to friends, employers, exchanges or anyone else that will be sending you funds. The private key is what you use to pay or send Bitcoins to other users. It is the private key that has the most vulnerability. The Nymi’s unique technology acts a robust security system for users. One of the key advantages of the app is that it will be able to generate outgoing Bitcoin transactions without ever exposing the private key to the outside world.
In addition, Bitcoin users will know exactly where their Bitcoins are being housed at all times. “People don’t know where their Bitcoin funds are stored, and who can access them,” explains Yevgeniy Vahlis, Bionym’s Chief Cryptographer. “The Nymi’s wallet application makes the answer clear: the wallet is physically stored on the Nymi. The Nymi’s multi-factor system, including its ECG biometric, ensures secure Bitcoin storage is tied to the rightful owner”.
But it may be in the Nymi Bitcoin Wallet user experience that really changes the game for everyday users. Bitcoin currently uses a password system to access funds. Password systems are always a pain, but for Bitcoin it is even more of a headache. Bitcoin passwords are never stored and therefore cannot be recovered, so if you forget it, you will be locked out entirely. The Nymi Bitcoin Wallet will reduce the complexity of setting up and accessing an account by making use of its unique authentication system, your heart, doing away with the need for a password completely.
We have seen a lot of innovation coming out of Toronto tackling opposite ends of this emerging payment ecosystem. Bex.io is aiming to remove all the technical complexity for entrepreneurs who want to run a Bitcoin exchange. And Kyrptokit is working on a Bitcoin wallet which can be accessed directly in the web browser. Bionym, joins these startups in helping to reduce friction for Bitcoin through their modern day take on the traditional wallet.
A Bitcoin Wallet is just one application expected to be available when the Nymi is released mid-2014. Last month, Bionym unveiled the winners of their app ideation contest which included a stress manager, a smart home hub and a voice-controlled digital butler. The more we learn about applications for the Nymi, the more it is clear that the device is much more than just a better password alternative which in itself was a clear value proposition for purchase. Taking on payment systems, the connected home and health could make the Nymi the must-have wearable for the people of the future.