The future of tickets could be in our own hands after Sweden’s state-run railway announced plans to let passengers use a microchip implanted between their thumb and index finger instead of paper tickets.
Rail operator SJ said commuters must already have one of the implants, which use the same near field communication (NFC) technology as the Oyster cards available in London, because it does not sell them.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 people in Sweden have chips the size of a grain of rice in their hands. The implants, which have no battery, are injected through a syringe in a method also used for chipping pets.
SJ communications manager Stephan Ray told the Times newspaper: “Users pay for their tickets the usual way, at a ticket office, online or on the mobile app, and our computer system records that they’ve paid. When the inspector scans the passenger’s hand using a smartphone . . . [it] checks in our system that they’ve paid.”
Swedish tech firm Epicenter recently announced that hundreds of its workers had agreed to have the chips implanted. The chip gives them access to doors and photocopiers, and will soon give them the ability to pay in the cafe.
Paul Armstrong, of Here/Forth, which advises companies on technology, said the technology could be adopted in the UK. He told the Times: “It’s only a matter of time until something similar is offered here en masse, with the proper safeguards, due to the convenience it offers.”