Hand-implanted microchip could be used for contactless payments

A tech company is rolling out a microchip that can be implanted in people’s hands with the goal of making contactless payments easier.

London-based Walletmor said the chip will work with the Purewrist app, a digital wallet. After downloading the app, users will go to a specialist to have a chip installed in their hands that would act in conjunction with the app and businesses that use the app. 

Once users are completely set up with the microchip and app, they can make payments using the funds in their accounts. 

The company said the implant process is safe. The skin incision for the implant is very small and is usually 7 millimeters long, and the procedure takes about four minutes. 

RELATED: Swedish company showcases microchip that can download COVID-19 passport status

The implant itself costs $299, according to the company’s website. 

"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," founder and chief executive Wojtek Paprota told the BBC. "It can be used wherever contactless payments are accepted."

Contactless, or tap-to-pay, payment systems have long been popular outside the U.S. as the default way of paying for goods and services. But tap-to-pay has grown in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, particularly during the pandemic when customers and merchants wanted to avoid as much physical interaction with cash and cards as possible.

Apple said it is expanding the iPhone’s capabilities to accept contactless payments, making it easier for merchants to conduct tap-to-pay transactions without having to buy additional hardware.

Google and Samsung have unveiled Android devices that would allow merchants to use those devices as contactless payment terminals as well, but those announcements have been largely aimed at outside the U.S., where contactless payment habits are already well established. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.