U of T Engineering alumni behind a wearable device that eliminates the need for passwords, PIN codes and more, are making news around the world again as they prepare to launch a new Bitcoin wallet feature for their Nymi wristband.
Bionym was recently featured in a video as part of U of T’s Spotlight on Startups series, in which CEO Karl Martin (EngSci 0T1, ECE MASc 0T3, PhD 1T0) explained how U of T’s entrepreneurship climate and supports helped set he and co-founder Foteini Agrafioti (ECE MASc 2T7, PhD 1T1) on their path to a thriving business.
The Spotlight on Startups series profiles the many entrepreneurial efforts growing from the hundreds of companies spun out from research and connections sparking every day at the University of Toronto:
U of T hosts more than 50 enterprise-fostering courses, programs, labs, clubs, contests and speaker series across its faculties, departments and campuses — and then there are all the innovations developing in informal settings. U of T ranks No. 1 in North America for number of startups launched. And its roster of spin-off companies driving innovation in Toronto and around the world continues to grow.
U of T Engineering’s own Entrepreneurship Hatchery offers undergraduate students access to mentoring, space and equipment to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses. They can engage directly with experienced entrepreneurs, like Bionym’s Karl Martin, to learn the ins and outs of start-up life.
For Bionym, the newest feature of the Nymi wristband has caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Mashable and more, as the company prepares to launch a feature capitalizing on an emerging digital currency, called Bitcoin.
Martin gave U of T an update on the Bitcoin connection and what’s next for the growing company.
The Nymi has been in the media lately for a new feature relating to Bitcoin. What is it?
Bitcoin is an emerging digital currency that is not controlled by any country or central bank. It’s still in the early days for this technology, and it is not well understood or accessible to the general public. Bionym announced that the Nymi will launch with a Bitcoin wallet that will make it easier for people to make payments and securely manage the Bitcoins they own. Essentially, the Nymi will help make Bitcoins accessible and not require a deep understanding of the underlying Bitcoin technology to make it useful. As more merchants start accepting Bitcoin payments, the Nymi will enable users to pay in a seamless and secure manner.
Why does the Bitcoin connection seem to be exciting the public so much? The Nymi was cool from the start, and has lots of potential uses, but people seem to be talking about it a lot more since the Bitcoin wallet came into play…
Bitcoin has been gaining a lot of attention lately as it is on the cusp of transitioning from an early adopter “curiosity,” to being a mainstream disruptor. This is a natural place for the Nymi to be, and I think people are very excited to see that the Nymi will be at the forefront of digital commerce.
What are you most excited about in the near future for Bionym?
We’re about to start releasing our developer units [ed: testing units for potential users, independent software developers and entrepreneurs]. We have such an eager community of developers and early customers, so we’re extremely excited to start putting things in their hands.