32M employees offered biochip hand implants for work monitoring, payments

The chips can be used to login to PCs, use company machines, and make purchases -- but how many will sign up?

Three Square Market (32M) is offering implanted chips to employees interested in being biohacked.

The new scheme, which 32M emphasized as being voluntary, begins on 1 August. According to the firm, the RFID chip will be implanted into their hand to "make purchases in their break room micro market, open doors, login to computers, use the copy machine," and other work-related purposes.


While optional, the marketing solutions provider expects over 50 employees to undergo the procedure.

"We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office micro markets, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals," said 32M CEO Todd Westby. "Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities."

32M isn't necessarily wrong. While the idea of having a chip implanted into your body may make some feel squeamish or give rise to conspiracy theories, near-field communications (NFC) is the same kind of technology we have in our contactless credit cards and what makes mobile payments possible.

NFC chips activate when in contact with another chip to pass small amounts of data between each other, demand very little power, and already are used to identify us.

Some may consider having such a device always to hand, as it were, as simply the next step.

This particular scheme is made possible through a partnership between 32M and Swedish biohacking firm BioHax International. Employees interested in being chipped will be able to have the implant at 32M's "chip party" on 1 August at the firm's headquarters in River Falls, Wisconsin.

BioHax is not the only Swedish company which considers implanted NFC chips as the future of payment processing.

Several years ago at the Kaspersky Labs Security Analyst Summit in Cancun, Mexico, I saw a presenter undergo the same implant, offered by Swedish grassroots movement and network BioNyfiken.

The procedure itself caused the willing victim to sweat in pain -- although I believe the derma-implant specialist caused this by using the wrong gauge needle to implant the chip between his thumb and forefinger -- however, BioNyfiken biohacker Hannes Sjoblad said at the conference that the chip is worth the discomfort, as it can be used to replace everything from credit cards to gym membership.

"The weakness in wearables is that people get bored," Sjoblad said. "It is simply another thing that clutters people's lives [..] but we want something which is always on, always there and does not disturb your life."

The idea of being chipped may not appeal to everyone, even if it could be used as a quick ID system and a way to streamline and reduce all of your digital clutter. However, at least for health monitoring purposes, the idea has merit.

We may see more businesses adopting the chip process in the future -- while it remains to be seen what happens with the chip and stored data should employees leave a company.


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