(CMR) More people in Europe and the UK are open to using implantable payment chips, which would allow them to pay for goods and services by simply using their hands.
A 2021 survey of more than 4,000 people across the UK and the European Union found that 51% would consider using the microchip.
British-Polish firm, Walletmor, told the BBC that it became the first company to offer the payment chips for sale last year and has since sold over 500.
“The implant can be used to pay for a drink on the beach in Rio, a coffee in New York, a haircut in Paris – or at your local grocery store. It can be used wherever contactless payments are accepted,” founder and chief executive Wojtek Paprota told BBC.
Walletmor's chip weighs less than a gram and is a little bigger than a grain of rice. It comprises a tiny microchip and an antenna encased in a biopolymer – a naturally sourced material similar to plastic.
The technology Walletmor uses is near-field communication or NFC, the contactless payment system in smartphones. Other payment implants are based on radio-frequency identification (RFID), a similar technology typically found in physical contactless debit and credit cards.
Patrick Paumen (37), a security guard from the Netherlands, had the contactless payment microchip implanted in 2019.
Mr. Paumen told BBC that whenever he pays for something, it causes a stir among cashiers.
“The reactions I get from cashiers are priceless!” said Mr. Paumen, who simply places his left hand near the contactless card reader, and the payment goes through.
He said he doesn't have any concerns about invasiveness and security because the microchip is the same technology that people use daily.
Mr. Paumen, who has several implants, said, “The reading distance is limited by the small antenna coil inside the implant. The implant needs to be within the electromagnetic field of a compatible RFID [or NFC] reader. Only when there is a magnetic coupling between the reader and the transponder can the implant can be read.”
Mr. Paumen describes himself as a “biohacker,” putting pieces of technology into his body to try to improve his performance. He has 32 implants in total, including chips to open doors and magnets.
“Technology keeps evolving, so I keep collecting more. My implants augment my body. I wouldn't want to live without them,” he told BBC.
“There will always be people who don't want to modify their body. We should respect that – and they should respect us as biohackers,” he added.