Around 3,000 cyber-Swedes have small, rice-sized chip implants. They’re part of a study to monitor microchips embedded under the skin on the back of a person’s hand.
In a gesture that’s as simple as a handshake, participants can swipe or wave a hand to pay for shopping, book train tickets and access buildings. The tiny implant can effectively replace credit cards, physical keys and tickets.
Microchipping has been around for years. British scientist Kevin Warwick received an RFID implant in 1998. He used it to activate lights and open doors. Companies such as Biohax and Dangerous Things make near-field communication (NFC) chips which can be used to store Bitcoin wallet addresses and other sensitive data; unlock their cars and start their engines; or log onto their computers easily and conveniently.
It may be difficult to justify having an implant surgically wedged into the flesh of your hand, between your thumb and forefinger, when the sole purpose is for easy access to the gym – when you can just keep carrying your access keycard – but cryptocurrency wallet addresses are not as easy to remember.
Meet Martijn Wismeijer, the marketing manager at Bitcoin ATM manufacturer General Bytes who calls himself the first man to become a “human Bitcoin wallet.” In 2014, he decided to store his private Bitcoin keys in chips that he had implanted under his skin. He explains how he made his body a walking Bitcoin ATM in this mind-bending TEDx Talk.
With 3,000+ Swedes turning the tide toward embedded chips, it may not be too long before crypto enthusiasts, mired in wallets, passwords and strings of digits, decide that the best way to keep track of their digital assets is with the flick of a wrist.