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River Falls company will microchip volunteer employees

Employees of Three Square Market of River Falls will have a chance at a new way to work with optional implanted chip technology starting Aug. 1.

For those who volunteer, an RFID chip will be implanted in their finger and will allow them to make purchases in their break room "micro market," open doors, log in to computers, use the copy machine and more. The company expects about 50 employees to participate.

Three Square Market is working with Swiss chip company BioHax International. The radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in the chips uses electromagnetic fields to identify electronically stored information. The chip implant uses near-field communications, which is the same technology used in contactless credit cards and mobile payments.

"We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals," Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby said in a news release. "Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc."

Chipping will be done Aug. 1, and takes just seconds.

"We see chip technology as the next evolution in payment systems, much like micro markets have steadily replaced vending machines. As a leader in micro market technology, it is important that Three Square Market continues leading the way with advancements such as chip implants," Westby added.

Three Square Market plans to use the technology to help it grow its other self-checkout businesses.

"We see this as another payment and identification option that not only can be used in our markets but our other self-checkout/self-service applications that we are now deploying which include convenience stores and fitness centers," Chief Operating Officer Patrick McMullan said.

Three Square Market is a micro market technology business. It operates more than 2,000 kiosks in 20 countries. It develops smartphone applications and inventory intelligence.