In London, a tech company called Walletmor is implanting customers’ hands with contactless payment microchips. Is this the future of financial convenience, or a step too far?
For the price of £230, which somewhat ironically is way beyond the contactless payment limit, London tech company Walletmor will implant your hand with a microchip that can be used to make contactless purchases.
If you’re down for a little augmentation and like the idea of becoming a walking wallet, all that’s required is a visit to a Walletmor specialist and install its online banking service on a phone or tablet.
Once all the admin is completed, a surgeon (presumably qualified, and not on work experience) will make a skin incision around 7mm long and insert the chip into the palm — specifically, the chunky bit of flesh below the thumb called the ‘thenar,’ if you want to get technical.
The relatively painless procedure takes around four minutes to complete, as per the company site, and then you’re instantly free to begin confusing shop merchants and bus drivers across the nation.
The implants themselves are around the size of a grain of rice and are made from three elements; the NFC Chip, which acts as the hard drive where your account data is stored and encrypted, the NFC Antenna, that connects the chip to card machines, and the Biopolymer, responsible for protecting the other two components from any damages.
They’re usable anywhere you can find contactless card machines, and have the same £100 single payment cap put on standard debit cards.
It sounds a little barmy, granted, to resort to getting physically chipped to forgo carrying a wallet or minimise the risk of losing a card on a heavy night out, but it is becoming more popular as a concept.
Reportedly, Walletmor has already attended to over 500 customers that are now walking around with this superpower unbeknownst to the rest of us. Perhaps it’s time we start questioning whether this may be the natural progression (pun intended) in customer convenience with technology.
A 2021 survey of more than 4,000 people across the UK and the EU revealed that 51% would consider getting chipped if it became normalised, and concerns regarding personal security or fintech tracking could be sated.
Contactless has become a default way for younger generations to pay for goods and services — to the extent that we can do our entire grocery shop without interacting with staff at all. Throughout social distancing regulations imposed during the height of the pandemic, the popularity of digital wallet platforms grew exponentially too.
Having once relinquished carrying cash for debit cards, and now debit cards for our phones, will we soon cut out the middleman altogether and integrate payment systems within our bodies?
As we speak, I’m quite literally waiting for a replacement debit card to come in the post. I may just cancel that order.