A Dutch entrepreneur has had computer chips implanted into his hands to securely store currencies like Bitcoin. Martijn Wismeijer, the co-founder of the start-up MrBitcoin, which operates crypto-cash ATMs in and around Europe, underwent the painful procedure earlier this month. The NFC (near-field communication) technology tags can be read by smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. The chips can also be used to program a personalized alarm clock and the Amsterdam-based Wismeijer hopes to throw away the keys to his house and install a NFC-enabled door lock. He explains to Metro why the procedure isn’t as extreme as it might seem.
Don’t you think you’ve gone too far?
Well, you don't know you want it until you have it. In a way, it is the same reaction people had before the internet or mobile phones.
Was the procedure painful?
It was a bit painful at first, but after a few days my hands were no longer swollen. Now, almost three weeks after, only when I need to use them do I think about them. Otherwise, it is a not an issue. Other than the fact that my friends now call me MrBitcoin, Chip or Bitcoin Cyborg, it's life as usual.
But isn't it dangerous for your health?
I am not sick, so my doctor is not going to help me inject something into my body. I think he has a fair point there. As long as the installation procedure is done correctly, I don't think there are any dangers myself but the manufacturer clearly states the transponder device has not been tested or certified by any regulatory agency for implantation or use inside the human body.
How have other people reacted to it?
Some people thought it was rather extreme, but personally I think that an invisible piece of sophisticated micro-electronics (embedded in a USP grade lead-free Schott 8625 biocompatible glass casing) is far less extreme or invasive as silicon breast implants, piercings or tattoos, yet those are all socially accepted.
You literally have the technology in your hands. How do you feel about it?
I feel that by supporting these biohacking developments we can learn what works and what doesn't. Now that I have used them for a few weeks, it is possible to store my Bitcoin in an encrypted format – an important step in securing the coins that same day. In the not so distant future we will be able to implant new models with more functionality like vital health monitoring devices. Imagine a normally invisible tattoo on your arm glowing red when you get a heart attack, swipe your phone and your phone will notify your doctor. It’s a technology that will, in the near future, save many lives.
Are there other non-health-related benefits of having these chips?
You can use it to unlock your phone, computer, tablet, turn off the alarm clock in my Android, open doors to the house, start your car, replace the ID badges from work and use for access-controlled gates, and so on. I can bring interactivity to an existing tattoo by implanting a NFC chip below it – the possibilities are endless and I am just starting to explore.