RFID enables wallet-less drinkers

Scottish night-clubbers are getting the first opportunity in the UK to enjoy a round of drinks without having to search for their wallet at the end of a boozy evening.

New RFID technology at Bar Soba means customers are opting for a microchip implanted under the skin so that revellers don't need cash to pay for their poison.

It also allows them guaranteed entry to the club as well as first-name banter with bar staff, because of an electronic database that stores customer identity and details.

According to the Daily Telegraph, most punters have embraced the 'sub derma' technology with many pleased it can even flag up their favourite tipple as they walk through the door.

Entrants are typically asked to extend their arm while a medical professional inserts the Verichip, which is about the size of a grain of rice and can be implanted anywhere in the body.

For its UK roll out a London-based firm, Surge IT Solutions, has been appointed to distribute the tags by US manufacturer, Applied Digital Solutions. The unveiling has caused a heated response from UK anti-RFID group, Notags.

They say the branding of human beings with under the skin spy tags could lead to a "frightening future" if subdermal RFID is allowed to develop unchecked.

"We believe that the implantation of RFID chips into people is totally unacceptable even for things so seemingly benign as this," said Chris McDermott, Director of Notags.

He argues that as each chip sends out its unique ID to whoever has access to the database, questions over privacy and security are raised without solutions.

There is also the chance a hacker could access the database and its personal files remotely.

"How secure will the Bar Soba database be and what type of information will it contain? Having the chip inserted under the skin is the same as having a bar code tattooed onto your hand or your forehead, only much worse."

"Not all new technology is good technology," said the group in a statement.

However, Bar Soba owner, Brad Stevens, is clear that the technology is already delivering benefits to his business.

"There are a number of advantages, from instant access to not having to carry money or credit cards, to letting bar staff know a customer's name and favourite drink," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"By the time you walk through the door to the bar, your favourite drink is waiting for you and the bar staff can greet you by name."

However, he pointed out that customers using the device would need a limit on how much they could spend to prevent them drinking more than they could afford.

Notags warned that the technology could even become the ultimate ID device, serving to pave the way for an "Orwellian nightmare of State control and surveillance."

They said this is down to the design of Verichip, which runs on embedded reader equipped to instantly identify a person, tie them to a location and match them to an electronic database.

The Scottish executive has also expressed concerns, saying such RFID innovation could encourage more people to drink excessively.

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