For years believed to be yet another crazy conspiracy theory, human microchips are now making their way onto the market.
The implanted Radio Frequency Identification chip, more commonly known as the RFID chip — thought of by many as the Mark of the Beast — is here, fully functional and ready for use.
What Is An RFID Chip?
It serves virtually the same purpose as a barcode or magnetic strip on the back of a credit card and provides a unique identifier to that object.
In the same way that a barcode or mag strip must be scanned in order to retrieve its information, the part of your body carrying the RFID device must also be scanned to work.
This device purports to take convenience to another level, surpassing the current cell phone technology which allows us to quickly pay for a cup of coffee or grab an Uber.
In the near future the RFID chip could allow us to do the same, without ever needing to carry around any cash, credit, or debit cards. All this financial information could be accessed directly from your implanted RFID chip.
As of last October in the U.S., 1 in 5 payments at Starbucks were made through the company’s mobile app. And according to eMarketer, in 2014 Americans spent more than $3.68 billion using tap-to-pay technology.
In 2015 that number reached $8.71 billion and by 2019 it’s projected to hit an astounding $210.45 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook predicts that the next generation of children “will not know what money is.”
Alarming as this may sound, it’s entirely plausible; in just a short period of time the use of physical money has dwindled to the point of being a rarity, as it seems everything can be done more efficiently with cards.
Cards also eliminate the worry of not carrying enough cash, or of having that cash stolen. Check out this ad below, released almost 10 years ago from IBM.
IBM RFID Commerical – The Future Market
To be honest, this does look pretty great. Just imagine: not having to carry around your wallet and various cards, not having to worry about having enough cash on hand — everything you need with you at all times.
Can This Technology Be Used Right Now?
Charlie Warzel from Buzzfeed News decided to find out. After spending a month with no wallet, relying solely on his cell phone for day-to-day expenses, he decided to try out the RFID chip and offered the following reasoning:
“To hear Silicon Valley tell it, the broken-in leather wallet is on life support. I wanted to pull the plug. Which is how, ultimately, I found myself in this sterile Swedish backroom staring down a syringe the size of a pipe cleaner. I was here because I wanted to see the future of money. But really, I just wanted to pay for some shit with a microchip in my hand.”
Check Out Charlie’s Month Without Money
What Are The Potential Drawbacks To This Device?
Sound too good to be true? It very well may be. One foreseeable concern is that soon we may all be forced to get these chips, if only because the retail and financial landscapes change so much to accommodate them.
If this technology does become widespread, then retail outlets, restaurants, and grocery stores may begin to phase out the traditional methods of payment like cash and debit/credit magnetic stripe readers.
In fact, much like the commercial above depicts, there’s a good chance that in the future, there won’t even be someone there to take your payment; you will simply walk out and everything will be scanned and charged simultaneously.
The RFID chip also doubles as a tracking device. Your every move could easily be monitored, and governments might be given free reign to take out late payments for things such as income tax.
Considering new developments like online banking and scan and deposit checks, even the need to physically go to a bank might become a thing of the past.
To some this might all sound like a welcome change, but I argue we should be worried about being physically removed from our money like this, only experiencing it as numbers on a screen — though come to think of it, that’s not so far from the state of things right now; money is essentially just data, just information on a computer.
Is It Safe?
Aside from the risks of identity theft and hacked finances, there are also safety risks to consider. As if our cell phones and the electromagnetic frequencies surrounding us at all times weren’t bad enough, the RFID chip would be directly inside our bodies, connected at all times.
It has become common knowledge now that having your cell phone too close to your body for long periods of time can be detrimental your health and may lead to cancer. But with RFID chips, we don’t even have the option of removing them when not in use.
And every time we make a transaction, radio frequencies will be beaming directly at our bodies, which means even more frequencies coursing through the air. I can’t be the only one who finds this worrisome.