Over half the employees of a US software development company are consenting to having chips implanted in their hands.

Consumers are concerned about security when they pay for everyday items using a credit card, cash or, increasingly, a smartphone.

Now, a US company is taking secure payment technology to a whole new level by implanting microchips into its employees.

Vending machine software developer Three Square Market has offered to implant the devices into its employees’ hands. Over half have agreed. As a result, employees can buy snacks from kiosks securely without using a card, cash or mobile phone.

“What this chip actually does is it’s read by an RFID (radio frequency identification) reader that is on any vending devices, any credit card readers, any door access codes,” Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby told BBC News.

In addition, the oblong chip uses near-field communications (NFC) technology similar to technology that allows people to make payment using smartphones.

“What am I implanting into my body?”

“I was hesitant – what am I implanting into my body?” said Melissa Timmins, Three Square Market’s vice-president of sales. “My kids were the ones who kind of got me excited.”

Conversely, other Three Square Market employees were concerned about health risks. Infection is a possibility. However, other health risks are unknown.

“I’m not going to do it,” said marketing executive Katie Langer. “My reasoning for that is all about what health effects this might have in the long term.”

Privacy concerns

So far, so Big Brother. Three Square Market claims the project is the first of its kind in the US. However, is there a chance that people’s privacy will be compromised if more firms follow suit?

Data that flows between the $300 implant and the reader is encrypted, Westby told Fortune. Moreover, the oblong-shaped chips are not GPS-enabled and cannot be used to track people.

Implanted microchips are growing in popularity. Epicenter, a startup hub in Sweden, reportedly started offering microchips to employees earlier this year.

Biohackers’ have chips implanted into their hands so they can send text messages and even open doors.

“In the future, these chips could be a bit more versatile, more powerful,” said software expert Tanja Lichtensteiger. “We don’t know what it can hold and that’s what we’re trying to explore now.”

Read the latest news about miniaturisation and micro and nanotechnology in Medical Device Developments.

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