Every time Patrick Bowman pays for something in a store or restaurant, it causes an uproar.

This 37-year-old doesn’t need a bank card or cell phone to pay. Alternatively, you can simply place your left hand near the contactless card reader and the payment is made.

“The feedback I get from the cashiers is priceless!” says Baumen, a Dutch security guard.

You can pay manually because in 2019 an electronic payment chip has been implanted under your skin.

“This procedure hurts as much as someone hurts your skin,” Baumin says.

Patrick Bowmen's hand with a light under his skin

PATRICK PAUMEN Patrick Paumen has a microchip under the skin of his left hand and lights up when it comes into contact with an electronic thrust point.

The first time a microchip was implanted in a human was in 1998, but it has only been available for commercial use for the past decade.

Buy a coffee in New York or a cocktail in Rio

When it comes to implantable payment chips, British-Polish company Walletmor says it became the first company to put them up for sale last year.

“The implants can be used to pay for a drink on the beach in Rio, a coffee in New York, a haircut in Paris, or at a local supermarket,” says founder and CEO Wojtek Paprota. It can be used anywhere contactless payments are accepted.

The Walletmor chip, which weighs less than a gram and is slightly larger than a grain of rice, consists of a small chip and antenna covered with biopolymer, a natural material that resembles plastic.

X-ray image of the hand showing the Walletmor implant

WALLETMOR A Walletmor chip is placed in a person’s hand after local anaesthesia.

The technology Walletmor uses is NFC (Near Field Communication, Convergence Communication), the contactless payment system in smartphones. Other payment implants rely on radio frequency identification (RFID), the technology typically found in contactless physical debit and credit cards.

Convenience versus privacy

For many of us, the IDThe idea of ​​implanting such a chip in our body can be intimidating, but a 2021 survey of more than 4,000 people in the UK and EU found that 51% of those interviewed consider it an option.

However, the report added, without giving a percentage figure, that “issues such as invasion and security are of paramount concern” for the participants.

Patrick Baumann says he has none of these concerns.

“Chip implants contain the same kind of technology that people use every day, from master keys to unlocking doors, public transport cards like Oyster (used on the London Underground) or bank cards with payment functions. No. Call,” he says.

The reading distance is limited by the small antenna inside the implant. The implant must be within the electromagnetic field of the RFID reader. [o NFC] compatible. Only when there is magnetic coupling between the reader and the transceiver can the implant be read.”

He adds that he is not worried that his whereabouts can be traced.

Theodora Lau

Theodora Lau Theodora Lau says the benefits and risks of microchipping must be weighed.

However, the problem with these chips (and what causes concern) is that in the future they become more advanced and filled with personal data. Conversely, if this information is secure and if it can be traced in reality.

Fintech or fintech expert Theodora Lau is the co-author of Beyond Good: How Technology is Driving a Business-Driven Revolution.

Lau says the implanted payment chips are just an “extension of the Internet of Things”. It means another new way to communicate and exchange data.

However, while many people say they are open to the idea, as it will make paying for things faster and easier, the benefits must be weighed against the risks. Especially since the embedded chips hold more and more personal information.

“How much are we willing to pay for convenience? Where do we draw the line when it comes to privacy and security? Who is going to protect critical infrastructure and the people who are part of it?” asks Theodora Lau.

The dark side of technology

Nada Kakabadsi, professor of policy, governance and ethics at the University of Reading’s Henley School of Business, is also cautious about the future of more advanced embedded chips.

“There is a dark side to technology that can lead to abuse,” Kakabadsi says. “For those who do not like individual freedom, it opens up tempting new horizons for control, manipulation, and oppression.”

And he asks, “And who owns the data? Who has access to it? Is it ethical to turn people on like pets?”

Stephen Northam, senior lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Winchester, says the concerns are unwarranted. In addition to his academic work, he is the founder of the British company BioTeq, which has been manufacturing contactless and implantable chips since 2017.

Patrick Bowmen shows a magnetic nail on his finger

Patrick Baumin Patrick Baumin considers himself a “biohacker” and has a magnet implanted in his body.

Its implants are aimed at people with disabilities who can use it to open doors automatically.

“We do consultations daily and have done over 500 transplants in the UK, but Covid has slowed everything down a bit,” he says.

“I’ve used this technology in animals for years,” he says. “They are small, inert bodies. There are no risks.”

Back in the Netherlands, Baumen describes himself as a “bio hacker,” someone who puts pieces of technology into his body to try and improve his performance. It has 32 implants in total, including door opener chips and built-in magnets.

“Technology keeps evolving, so I keep collecting more,” he says. “My implants strengthen my body,” he says. “I don’t want to live without them.”

“There will always be people who don’t want to modify their bodies. We should respect that, and they should respect us as biohackers.”


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