Jan Hubík is one of a small group of Bitcoin enthusiasts looking to stretch the boundaries of Bitcoin user technology with implants.
Working at the Paralelni Polis, known as the “Institute of Cryptoanarchy" in the Prague, where all purchasing transactions are made with the digital currency, automating the digital buying process was a natural fit, done rather unnaturally.
A piece of glass is shot into the user’s hand, between the thumb and forefinger, with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip inside, allowing for touchless transactions.
“It’s supplied by a company from the United States called Dangerous Things and they supply it already preloaded in an injector,” Hubík explained in an interview with Radio Prague. “So you just have to sterilize the skin and then you can just inject it. Then it’s done. It’s really easy.”
The piece of glass is about the size of a piece of rice. Hubík says in his research that the human body is very accommodating to glass, reducing any known side effects. You can see the chip if you push up from the underside of the hand.
No one really wants broken glass inside of them, removing the chip requires an incision large enough to allow the chip to be slipped out, like removing a splinter.
The upside of NFC implants is that they can be used in a multitude of ways. Hubík is looking to maximize his gains on convenience with other slights of hand if you will.
“I’m paying by Bitcoin with it and I’m working on electronic lock system here at Paralelní polis so that I will be able to use it to open doors. I’m also working on a device which will unlock my computer using the implant. And in the future, I want to try to replace some contactless ID cards with the implant.” - Hubík
Many believe that such injections could lead to problems with The State tracking individuals, as popularized by by Peter Joseph in the 2007 movie “Zeitgeist.” These chips would become required scanning devices for access to banking accounts, driving privileges, store of medical records, and the ability to purchase food in the future. Plus, they could track people in a government-monitored database.
The movie indicates, through a discussion between Aaron Russo and financial elitist insider Nicholas Rockefeller, that the world is heading to this reality. Those who are non-compliant with the state could have their chip deactivated, and with it their futuristic access to life’s essential functions.
Such Orwellian fears are not applicable here, since the NFC chip only has a range of a couple of centimeters, it’s not well-designed as a surveillance tracking device. No one will know you have one unless you go to the airport and The State’s security agents really look at your hand inside of a scanner.
Hubík is not the first, or last, to have such an implant. He says he personally knows of about ten people who have done this. As shown in the video above, Patric Lanhed is doing Bitcoin transactions through an implanted NFC chip with a scanner that connects to his online Bitcoin wallet.
Martijn Wismeijer was ahead of the curve back in 2014, injecting two chips and using them to turn off his alarm clock, forcing him to wake up.
“I personally feel that by supporting these bio-hacking developments we can learn what works and what doesn't,” Wismeijer said at the time. “In the not so distant future, we will be able to implant more functionality like subdermal glucose sensors or heart rate monitors and other vital health monitoring devices.”
One may ask ‘Why not use QR codes on mobile wallets in my smartphone? Why go to this extreme?’ There are a couple of reasons. Mobile phones are not secure devices, and are subject to hacks, malware and spyware, which is true for any computer. No need to let a computer bug or attack tie-up your virtual currency.
The phone’s battery also needs to have power, and be with you, to use your Bitcoin, and your hand-held chip will never have that problem.
It is unlikely that such chips will become the commonplace wave of the future. Something less invasive will probably be used, and even Hubík and Wismeijer admit this was more of a test of their curiosity more than a long-term application of Bitcoin security. Just as Bitcoin stretches the boundaries of what money is, and can be in the future, these individuals are testing its practicality limits. For boldly going where no Bitcoin owner has gone before, give them a hand for trying.