AARP Bulletin: In Sweden, A Chip Implant Eliminates the Need for Credit Cards, Cash

The day of having a microchip implanted in your body has arrived. In Sweden, thousands of citizens have implanted this tiny tech that can exchange data using signals, eliminating the need to carry keys, passes and credit cards. The chip can also store data, like your contact details and blood type. The chips are no bigger than a grain of rice and are inserted with a needle into the hand, usually between the thumb and index finger.

At Epicenter, an innovation center in central Stockholm, many on-site workers have microchip implants. “I use it to open doors, to operate the printer and to buy stuff,” says Per Söderström, 63. “I don’t want to carry around all my keys and credit cards as well as cash,” he adds, as he grabs a can of Coke out of a vending machine, a transaction he completed by swiping his hand across a card reader.

To some, this may be the ultimate security: An implanted chip can’t be lost or stolen. But risks remain. “Chips can be hacked,” Söderström says. “For instance, someone who has an NFC [near-field communication] reader on a cellphone could place it against another person’s chip and read the information off it.”

Hannes Sjöblad, founder of the chip implant design agency, says it is possible to hack or copy a microchip, but “this is not in any meaningful way different from someone hacking or copying a door badge.”

But Ben Libberton, a science communication officer, has reservations. “My main worry,” he says, “is that we’re becoming more and more willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience.”