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Would you microchip yourself to speed up paying with contactless? 11% of Londoners would

Would you microchip yourself to speed up paying with contactless? One in 10 Londoners say they would…

  • A quarter say they’d be happy to use a fingerprint scanner to verify payments 
  • 16% would be in favour of using a retinal scanner to do so
  • PaymentSense suggested the growing impatience of consumers was one of the main reasons why some would be keen to speed up the payment process

There’s no disputing that the emergence of contactless has helped cut down the time it takes to pay for everyday items.

Yet, it seems for some, the process of needing to pull out your card or your phone from your pocket or use a smart watch is still too arduous.

Many would take drastic steps to reduce the time it took for them to pay for their coffee in the morning.

In fact, 11 per cent of Londoners surveyed by PaymentSense and YouGov said they’d consider microchipping themselves to make it quicker for them to make contactless payments.

Ryan Gosling as the bio-engineered human K in dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner: 2049.

And while this may sound like something that those living in the London bubble may be keen to have done, the survey found that nine per cent of people across the country would be in favour of some kind of implanted chip.

The survey from the European payments processor also found support for some other ways consumers could turn their bodies into debit cards. 

More than a quarter say they would be happy to use fingerprint scans to verify payments, if their fingerprint was linked to a prepaid account.

Meanwhile, 16 per cent would even consider using retinal scans to do the same thing.

Biometric authorisation has become an increasingly popular idea among financial and cybersecurity companies.

Several banks have embraced voice ID for telephone banking and NatWest is trialling a debit card that uses a thumbprint rather than a PIN to authorise payments.

While the idea of microchipping yourself sounds like something out of Blade Runner: 2049 – which is ironic given the PaymentSense poll surveyed 2,049 people – the idea is gaining traction, though not necessarily for the purpose of speeding up the process of buying something.

The Guardian reported last November that UK company BioTeq had fitted 150 microchips into workers, which allow people to open home and office doors and start their cars with a wave of their hand. 

The chips are implanted in the flesh between a user’s thumb and forefinger.

Former body piercer Jowan Ostrlund, the founder of Swedish company Biohax, which has microchipped more than 4,000 people in the Scandinavian country

Former body piercer Jowan Ostrlund, the founder of Swedish company Biohax, which has microchipped more than 4,000 people in the Scandinavian country

And in Sweden, more than 4,000 people have let themselves be microchipped by a company called Biohax, with the chips acting like glorified smart watches allowing them to pay by swiping their hand.

With Sweden already racing towards being the first country in the world to go cashless, there’s a possibility it could go cardless soon after if the idea catches on.

In this country the support for the practice either of microchipping yourself or using your retina to pay might be a byproduct of the success of contactless.

According to a report published in June by UK Finance, use of contactless rose 31 per cent in 2018 to 7.4billion payments, while between 2016 and 2018 the percentage of UK adults registered to use mobile payments rose from just two per cent to 16 per cent.

PaymentSense suggested that this technology, coupled with the boom in online shopping, has made consumers increasingly impatient. 

Around two in five 16-24-year-old respondents said online shopping had made them more impatient, with 61 per cent of those under 40 saying the lack of queues made them prefer buying things online.

A further 54 per cent of the overall respondents said they felt fairly or very impatient when they were commuting. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Londoners were the most likely to describe themselves in this way, with 61 per cent feeling fairly or very impatient when travelling. 

The disconnect between those who felt frustrated and those who were in favour of microchipping themselves suggests the approximate five seconds it takes you to pull out your debit card and tap it against a ticket machine doesn’t frustrate the vast majority of people to the extent that they’d consider modifying their own body to save the time. 

At least not yet.


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