Written by Setu Pradeep
Lars Guessens is a 31-year-old video producer who works for a Belgian production house in Antwerp. In his spare time, he likes to go on street trips, attend music festivals and see the confused expressions of the audience as he pays by placing his left hand on the card machine. That last part is possible because Goossens has a small device implant in his left hand called Walletmor, a London-based company.
The smaller device is the size of a safety pin, less than 0.5 mm thick. It consists of an integrated circuit and a metal casing that acts as an antenna and is enclosed in a hermetic bio-housing made of a biopolymer. According to Walletmor, this biopolymer is completely safe because it is made with a special type of medical-grade material. Walletmore claims to be the first in the world to offer a wireless payment solution implanted in a human body.
“There are a lot of risks when you put something inside your body. For this reason, we test different types of medicine so that it does not cause any adverse reactions. The instrument and the materials from which it is made have passed all the medical procedures that test for inflammation, toxicity, etc. We even tested the device with heat to make sure it was completely biologically compatible, “said Waztek Paprotta, founder and CEO of Waltmore.
The implant can be inserted into one of 100 Walletmor Certified Installation providers including hospitals, clinics and body modification centers. These registered centers exist in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Norway across the United Kingdom, United States and Europe.
Near Field Communication (NFC) -based implant is a completely inactive device that does not require any power source. It does not emit any radio waves and is only active when it comes close to a non-contact payment terminal. Since it uses the widely accepted NFC standard, it can be used at any payment terminal that supports the ‘tap-to-pay’ option for credit and debit cards.
Once installed, the device can be paired with a digital wallet solution provider that allows the user to maintain a wallet balance and control payments through the device. The implant itself costs € 199.
Walletmor has partnered with various payment service providers, including MuchBetter in the UK, iCard in the European Union and PureWrist in the US. Walletmor customers can use these payment service providers’ apps to control their implant usage: recharge their wallets, set payment limits, and more.
Still, the possibility of misuse of this technology is not lost on Paprota, who has tried various iterations of the device on his own. “The thing I’m afraid of with this technology is that one day, the governments of countries will make it compulsory for their citizens. If we were contacted for such a project, we would not say. This can be great from a business standpoint but we don’t want to be a part of it. We want people to have the freedom to choose for themselves, “he said.
However, he added that any concerns raised about the device could also be raised about credit cards that have wireless tap features. Also, the user has complete control over how the device is used and may limit the payments made with the device. If necessary, they may choose to temporarily disable it.
Paprota envisions many more applications for the device than just paying. “For example, if you ever need an ambulance, a registered paramedic can scan your hand for chips and find out if you have allergies or other information. We also envision integrating it with the digital EU so that you have the details of your identification wherever you go, “he explained.
And these applications are not too far away. In fact, Guessens is already relying on implants to lock and unlock doors in his home and studio.