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The Microchip Implant that Lets You Pay with Your Hand

Patrick Paumen causes a stir whenever he pays for something in a shop or restaurant. This is because the 37-year-old doesn't need to use a bank card or his mobile phone to pay. Instead, he simply places his left hand near the contactless card reader, and the payment goes through. Patrick said, “The reactions I get from cashiers are priceless!”

He is able to pay using his hand because back in 2019 he had a contactless payment microchip injected under his skin. A microchip was first implanted into a human back in 1998, but it is only during the past decade that the technology has been available commercially.

British-Polish firm, Walletmor, says that last year it became the first company to offer implantable chips for sale. The CEO said, "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.” Their chip weighs less than a gram and is little bigger than a grain of rice.

For many of us, the idea of having such a chip implanted in our body is an appalling one. But a 2021 survey of more than 4,000 people across the UK and the EU found that 51% would consider it. However, the report added that "invasiveness and security issues remained a major concern" for some respondents.

The issue with such chips, (and what causes concern), is whether in the future they become packed full of a person's private data. And, in turn, whether this information is secure, and if a person could indeed be tracked.

Nada Kakabadse, professor of ethics at Reading University is also cautious about the future of more advanced embedded chips. She says, “There is a dark side to the technology that has a potential for abuse. ... It opens up seductive new vistas for control, manipulation and oppression.”

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