Bionym Raises $14M Series A For Its Heartbeat Authentication Wristband

Toronto-based startup Bionym has raised a $14 million Series A round of funding, including investment from Ignition Partners, Relay Ventures, MasterCard and Salesforce Ventures. The round includes a lot of strategic investment from participants like Export Development Canada, who see value in the product as a security enhancing feature for business customers.

Bionym’s tech places an advanced electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor inside a wearable wristband device called the Nymi. The wristband matches the wearer’s ECG against a stored profile to ensure the wearer’s identity, and then authenticates other devices via wireless communication from then on throughout the day, until the user removes the band, after which it requires re-authentication via ECG reading before becoming operational again.

The Nymi is only the company’s first product, but it’s currently in the hands of developers with its initial consumer launch planned for later this fall. A pre-order campaign for the Nymi has garnered over 10,000 orders for the device thus far. This round of funding will help the company get to that ship date and beyond and will also help with their ongoing hiring efforts. Bionym has swelled to around 40 employees since its founding in 2011, and recently moved into a larger office in downtown Toronto.

Bionym’s first founding came in the form of a $1.4 million seed round closed in August 2013, which included Relay Ventures, Daniel Debow and other angels. With MasterCard, Salesforce and EDC on board, this round is about securing strategic partnerships in addition to raising additional capital. The Nymi has plenty of potential when it comes to commerce applications, as well as in the hospitality business, as well as various enterprise possibilities.

Apple has shown an interest in making its Touch ID tech a core authentication technology for a number of applications and third-party service providers by opening up the hardware on its iPhones via API, but Nymi’s bet on the biometric measure of ECG remains unique, and theoretically offers security benefits above and beyond those of fingerprint tech, according to the startup. Bionym is also a tech company at heart, and could offer their services outside of the confines of their specific launch wearable, so in theory we could see similar ECG models licensed to other players down the road.

Regardless of the outcome for Bionym specifically, the time of the password would seem to be fading. Hardware and device-based authentication is on the rise, and this investment helps show the growing interest in the space.