The Dutch founder of a bitcoin ATM firm has gone to great lengths to highlight the digital currency — implanting near-field communication (NFC) chips under his skin so he can use his hand to access his Bitcoin wallet.
Martijn Wismeijer is the founder of mrbitco.in, which has installed bitcoin ATMs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic and Italy. Earlier this month he decided the safest place for the private keys that will unlock his bitcoin wallet, was between the skin on his hands.
The founder posted a video online showing himself and some interested parties having the implant — a 2mmx12mm glass chip that stores 888 bytes, according to a report byInternational Business Times (IBT) — secured under the skin using a syringe, all to a relaxing backing-track provided by Prodigy. While there’s not much memory on the chip, it’s enough to store things like key codes for a bitcoin wallet or other passwords.
The process looks sterile enough, though was likely not undertaken by a doctor. As Wismeijer told IBT, “Most doctors will not want to install the implant so a body manipulation artist (preferably not just tattoo artist or piercer) will be your next best bet, but make sure they work according to strict hygiene codes and know what they are doing”. Of course, ensuring that when you are neither a doctor nor a “body manipulation artist”, is probably not all that cut and dry. In the video, the volunteers are receiving the implants in a place called the old Prodent Toothpaste factory, during a biohacking session organised by a group called Permanent Beta.
Wismeijer and co are far from the first people to attempt such a stunt. University of Reading cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick implanted RFID chips in his forearm back in 1998 in an attempt to control lights, heaters and computer equipment remotely. Then there’s a group of Pittsburgh-based DIY biohackers called Grindhouse Wetware that are following in Warwick’s footsteps, opting to plug magnets under their flesh, along with homemade devices that can log body temperature and heart rate.