The future of ticketing is apparently in consumers’ hands after the state-run railway in Sweden, SJ Railways, implemented technology that reads microchips embedded between passengers’ thumb and index finger.
The implants use near field communication (NFC) technology, much like the Oyster cards available in London, and will be scanned by the conductor to validate tickets.
Passengers are registered with a membership number that will be saved on the microchip and monitored and updated through a mobile app on the commuter’s smartphone.
Close to 3,000 rail passengers already use the microchip technology, with SJ Railways claiming it is the first travel company in the world to employ it.
“SJ is already one of Sweden’s most digital companies, so this new project could be started up very quickly,” said Peter Dahlqvist, head of SJ business sales. “The microchip ticket is a good example of how we are happy to try out new ideas alongside customers and help to force the pace of digital development.”
In an interview with the BBC, SJ press officer Stephen Ray said he envisions the technology replacing “a lot of stuff” – including credit cards, and car and house keys.
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.
SJ’s business passengers were given a daily pass at Epicenter, which led to several SJ customers expressing an interest in the microchip implants.
“Some of SJ’s business passengers at Epicenter contacted us and asked about the possibility of using the microchip for the train journey,” said Lina Edström from the SJ business sales team. “We soon realised it was feasible with a few developments in our mobile platforms.”