For VIPs, this implant is a must
By Roger Parloff

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Have you gotten "chipped" yet? All the beautiful people are doing it. Well, actually, only six have done it so far, but give a new idea a chance.

In March the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona began offering to implant microchips in the upper left arms of favored patrons, affording them E-ZPass-like entree to its ultra-exclusive VIP lounge. The chip-equipped can then also pay for their drinks by merely flexing their triceps before a handheld electronic reader.

What seems to be slowing VIP-chip adoption, explains club owner Conrad Chase, is that the moment when people are most inclined to get chipped--at about two in the morning, say, during a night of heavy drinking and dancing--is "not the right atmosphere" for performing the quasi-medical procedure. (Might raise some informed-consent issues, too, one imagines.) So Chase, an American, urges VIPs to come in during the day on Tuesdays to have the 15-minute, allegedly painless procedure performed. So far only five people besides Chase himself have done it, he admits, but he says there are 21 more now awaiting their implantation appointments. He plans to extend the program to the club's Rotterdam branch in June, he adds, as well as to a Cologne branch that he plans to open in the fall.

The subdermal transmitters, made by Applied Digital Solution's VeriChip unit, are implanted with a syringe by a club staffer who is a nurse licensed to give injections. The club charges 125 euros for the injection, but gives the VIP an immediate 100-euro credit toward a bar tab.

It's probably only a matter of time before chipping catches on. Judging from the photo gallery on the club's website, this is not a crowd that's squeamish about implants. --Roger Parloff