Bionic Bank: Are you ready to put a payment chip in your hand?

FORGOT your bank card? Is your phone out of charge? Do not worry. You can still pay for this cafe. Just use your hand.

An Anglo-Polish company Walletmor has launched the first chip that can be inserted under the skin and then used to make contactless payments. He sold over 500 of these chips.

A chip under the skin? Sounds really gross, right?

Anything more ickier than a pacemaker? This is actually not a new development. Kevin Warwick, professor emeritus at the University of Reading, became the first human to harbor a microchip in 1998.

But since last year, Walletmor has been marketing implantable payment chips that allow contactless payments to be made at the supermarket or garage.

How it works?

Exactly the same way as when you use your phone to make a payment. Walletmor uses “near field communication” (NFC), which is also used in smartphones. Debit and credit cards use an alternative technology, radio frequency identification (RFID).

How micro is micro, in this case?

The Walletmor chip weighs less than a gram and is slightly larger than a grain of rice. This is typical of microchips that are inserted under the skin.

You mean there are more?

Yes, some European countries are a bit further in this kind of human-tech crossover. In Sweden, for example, thousands of people have had microchips inserted into their hands. They provide access to homes, offices and gyms and can also be used to store emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets for events and train journeys.

In Sweden, people even threw chipping parties.

It’s a change from tattoos and piercings I guess. Are there any concerns?

Well, yes, of course. People have raised security concerns about the idea that we all have personal information literally at our fingertips (or literally at our fingertips). However, proponents argue that a payment chip is the key fob equivalent of your car keys. That said, is it perhaps only a matter of time before we store our bank statements and access codes under our skin?

It’s all a bit science fiction, isn’t it?

Isn’t that fair? It won’t be long before the Bionic Man and Woman is nothing more than an old TV series. And it might not even cost six million dollars. Is it time for a Lee Majors comeback?


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Elaine R. Knight