Dutchman Martijn Wismeijer is very cautious when it comes to storing Bitcoin – so much so that in 2014, he had two NFC (near field communication) chips surgically implanted into each hand to store his encrypted Bitcoin keys.
Wismeijer stated a number of reasons for the drastic method of storing crypto, saying he had lost the majority of his Bitcoin over the years to exchange failure, hacking, and theft.
“I can safely say most of the bitcoin, more than 80 percent, I have lost due to hacks, thefts, exchanges gone bad and other problems. If I would’ve had the chip in 2010, I’d probably be a rich man by now.”
However, Wismeijer was also simply curious about the idea of storing his digital currency in his skin, telling IBTimes “I did it because I wanted to experiment with strong bitcoins using subdermal implants because that’s what I thought would be the Holy Grail of contactless payments.”
He had the procedure done at a body piercing studio, which he recommends to anyone wishing to have the procedure done. The chips are manufactured from glass and measure 2mm x 12mm end to end, the size of a small grain of rice. Wismeijer said the process was less painful than an IV drip injection, and pointed out that the procedure is commonly carried out on household pets with no issues.
The NFC chips store 888 bytes of data each, which is enough storage for 26 encrypted Bitcoin address keys. Wismeijer says he uses his chips every day to make purchases – the process involves scanning the chips with his smartphone to receive and then decrypt the keys in order to make a transaction. The keys can be removed and replaced with new keys for other cryptocurrencies remotely with a smartphone, and encryption prevents people from simply scanning Wisemeijer’s hands to read his keys.
Because of the attention he’s received, he never stores large amounts on the chips to prevent being targeted by thieves, but he says that he’s not the only one storing digital currencies in this way. Wismeijer owns General Bytes, a company that installs Bitcoin ATMs in locations throughout the world.
After being featured in the news, many of his employees followed suit, and Wismeijer says he knows “at least 50” individuals in the Prague area alone using subdermal Bitcoin wallets.
While the method may seem drastic, Bitcoin security is an important issue. Reportedly up to 23% of all Bitcoin has already been irreversibly lost, leading people to take their security very seriously indeed.
Though FDA approved, the process is apparently not without its risks, with certain studies potentially linking NFC chips to cancer. However, the health risks will not deter everyone, and years later people continue to follow Wismeijer’s lead in taking the ultimate security precaution to protect their Bitcoin.
Featured image from Twitter/Martijn Wismeijer.
Last modified: May 20, 2020 8:52 PM UTC