The implantable microchips that allow you to pay with your hand

When Patrick Paumen pays for something in a store or restaurant, he creates a stir.

This is due to the fact that the 37-year-old does not need to pay using a credit card or his phone. He merely puts his left hand near the contactless card reader instead.

A little LED light under his skin then shines brightly, and the transaction is completed.

Mr Paumen, a security guard from the Netherlands, says, “The reactions I receive from cashiers are wonderful!”

He can pay with his hand since he had a contactless payment microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted under his skin in 2019.

“The procedure hurts as much as when someone pinches your skin,” says Mr Paumen.

Although the first microchip was inserted into a human in 1998, the technology has only recently become commercially available.

When it comes to implanted payment chips, Walletmor, a British-Polish company, claims to have been the first to sell them last year.

“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,” says founder and chief executive Wojtek Paprota. “It can be used wherever contactless payments are accepted.”

The Walletmor chip is made up of a tiny microchip and an antenna covered in a biopolymer, which is a naturally produced substance comparable to plastic.

Mr. Paprota goes on to say that it is completely safe, that it has received regulatory approval, that it works instantly after being implanted, and that it will remain firmly in place. It also lasts an endless amount of time and does not require the use of a battery or any other form of electricity. According to the company, more than 500 chips have been sold.

Near-field communication, or NFC, is the contactless payment technique in cellphones that Walletmor employs. Other payment implants use radio-frequency identification (RFID), which is similar to the technology used in contactless debit and credit cards.