Six reality check: will we soon be paying by nfc chip implant – a new trend?
The abolition of cash through new electronic payment options is on everyone's lips. More and more banks are issuing contactless cards and the number of merchants accepting NFC (near field communication) cards is growing steadily. So why not make a credit or debit card smaller in shape so that it can be implanted as a chip in the hand or upper arm? Sounds like science fiction? But it's not, because according to Pro7, there are said to be 50 already worldwide.000 such "cyborgs" give. What are the advantages and disadvantages of an NFC chip implant and what does such a trend mean for payment transactions in Germany?? Sascha Breite, Head Future Payments at payment specialist SIX Payment Services, does the reality check.
By Sascha Breite, SIX Payment Services
To put it in a nutshell: There can be no talk of a real trend with chip implants yet. We're currently seeing sporadic selfies of enthusiastic techies and innovators seeking new experiences for a variety of reasons, showing us the opportunities the future holds, but also the challenges that still need to be overcome.
Check 1: Are Germans familiar with NFC technology??
According to a recent survey by IT security company Kaspersky Lab, just under half of the German population trusts NFC technology and would be willing to use it in certain situations. In parallel with this development, the number of contactless payments is rising steadily. When it comes to implants, however, opinions differ. This leads to another question:
Check 2: Can various use cases be simplified by foregoing NFC cards and implanting a chip in the hand instead?
Implanted NFC chips can be used in a variety of ways. Think, for example, of opening the car or house door, convenient payment at the supermarket checkout, access to secured areas or checking in and out of public transport. Similarly, the cell phone could automatically perform certain actions when it is picked up, for example unlocking itself or connecting to a loudspeaker depending on the context. Sounds convincing and can actually increase convenience – provided the right infrastructure is in place.
Check 3: How secure are NFC chip implants??
NFC chips can store various data sets, such as medical data, account numbers, access or contact information. Hackers could develop attack scenarios and try to tap this sensitive data unnoticed. The chip-equipped hand would only need to be brought near an NFC reader. Protection is provided – as with any other NFC device – by PIN entry. Unlike cards, watches or cell phones, it is probably difficult to put an implanted chip in a safe when not in use.
Check 4: How flexible can chip implants be??
The current state of technological development limits their possible use. A chip can be written with new data after implantation, but simultaneous use for different applications and secure card payments is not possible with it. The chip would have to be programmed and personalized as a Visa or MasterCard before implantation, which cannot be changed later on. In addition, the chip would lose its validity as a card after two to three years and would have to be replaced. The user would have to endure a procedure of removal and implantation over it.
Check 5: How future-proof are NFC chip implants??
Trend researchers are convinced that NFC technology will become established in a wide variety of use cases. The "Internet of Things" is giving this trend a further boost, as it allows convenient and secure identification of the user. Realistically, NFC chip technology will continue to develop and will inevitably require hardware upgrades – in other words, the replacement of implants.
We won't see a run on NFC chip implants in the next few years. Apart from the rather unpleasant procedure of implantation, there are too few benefits associated with it for the "normal user" with the current state of technology as well as the infrastructure being in its infancy. NFC technology as such will continue its triumphant march, taking on creative form factors beyond payment cards and smartphones. aj