According to research results from Chainalysis, a blockchain “investigator” firm, around 17 to 23 percent of bitcoins are lost forever.
To prevent this happening to them, people are ready to do radical things. Just like Martijn Wismeijer did.
Martin is a Dutch citizen and a marketing manager at the bitcoin ATM manufacturer General Bytes that stores access to his bitcoin in chips that are placed under his skin.
He implanted the chips under his skin back in 2014, out of curiosity as he says. And now he is paying some of his bills like a superman, by only waving his hand at the cash desk.
Chips also stores his recovery words and is very hard to hack, according to him.
“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,” he tells CNBC Make It. “If I would’ve had the chip in 2010, I’d probably be a rich man by now.”
And Martin says he is not the only one that has an implanted chip wallet as some of his colleagues also have one.
“I know at least 50 of them in the Prague area,” he says.
Mr. Bitcoin, as he calls himself, got this unusual idea after a biohacking company sent him a xNT near-field communication (NFC) microchip as a gift. He then paid $75 to a body piercing artist to implant it on both of his hands between the thumb and index finger.
The injection took only couple of seconds and recovery lasted around 2 weeks. It is less painful than having an IV drip put in, says Martin.
The technology itself is not new. Veterinarians inject microchips into animals as a tracking device, and a Swedish startup recently started implanting microchips into employees. While similar chips have been found to be biologically safe and are even FDA-approved for medical uses, there are some health concerns.
Chips carry some risks with them – some studies by toxicology specialists and veterinarians found that chip implants may cause cancer and in rare cases the chip may migrate to other parts of the body or become infected, according to the FDA. But that did not stop Wismeijer from undergoing the subdermal injection.
“I wasn’t really afraid that it would go wrong or anything because it was a hygienic procedure,” says Wismeijer. “And now I use them every day.”
So far, he hasn’t had any health problems or complications from the procedure, although he acknowledges that chip implantation is not for everyone.