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Tickets please: A Swedish train operator now accepts embedded microchips

Some 2,000 people have already had a microchip inserted, and they just need to hold out their hand for the conductor to scan.

The days of the paper train ticket could be coming to an end – and its potential replacement goes far beyond the e-ticket.  

In Sweden, train operator SJ can now scan biometric chips implanted in the hands of passengers. These feature Near Field Communication – the same technology used in contactless payment cards and Oyster cards.

When passengers buy tickets online, their booking references are stored in their microchip. So far, approximately 2,000 Swedes have had the microchips implanted, most of whom work in the tech industry.

SJ is expecting around a tenth of them to start using their chips as rail tickets. Those who wish to do so need to sign up to SJ’s loyalty programme. Once they’re all set up and aboard a train, passengers simply hold out their hand as the conductor passes.

An SJ spokesperson told the Independent that it was “hard to say” if the development represented the future of ticketed travel.  

“Anything can be obsolete in less than 12 months,” they added. “There might be a whole new generation of microchips that are smarter and better. Already Finnair are using face recognition at check-in, so that could be the next big thing when it comes to boarding planes and trains.”