London - British businesses are considering inserting microchips into employees to boost security, it was claimed this week.
Swedish tech firm Biohax said it is in talks with legal and financial companies to implant workers with chips. One potential client is a major global auditing firm with "hundreds of thousands of employees".
The £150 (about R2 800) chips – around the size of a grain of rice – are similar to those used on pets.
It is unclear where on the body they would be inserted. Biohax founder Jowan Osterlund used his 15 years’ experience as a body piercer to develop the method.
He told the Sunday Telegraph: "These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with. [The chips] would allow them to set restrictions for whoever."
He added: "There’s no losing it, there’s no dropping it, there’s no forgetting it. There’s always going to be an ultimate back-up." The chips could be used to enter buildings, access controlled areas, use printers – or buy food from the canteen.
They are based on "near field communication" – the same technology found in contactless bank cards. In Sweden, around 4,000 citizens have chips inserted including 85 of the 500 employees at travel operator Tui.
Osterlund said he expected some people would resist the technology at first, but predicted it would eventually catch on, especially in the private sector. He stressed: "It’s a learning curve. If this came from a government, I’d be like 'Yeah, you know what? No, that’s not going happen'." However, he added: "We’re a private actor – we’re doing this with our community, for our community."
Last year, Steven Northam, 34, a businessman from Hampshire, became the first person in the UK to be fitted with a similar microchip. It allows him access to his home and office – and even start his BMW car.
He had it implanted between his thumb and finger, Northam is now offering the service through his company BioTeq.
He said of the technology: "It can have a huge impact on society and business. In the future, we’re all likely to have one."