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EC moots trackable cyber euro

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The European Central Bank (ECB) is considering embedding tiny radio tags into euro notes in a bid to combat counterfeiters and money launderers, a report today notes.

The ECB is in talks with Hitachi, whose 0.3mm "mu-chip" responds to radio signals by sending out a 128-bit number. This information could include a serial number and date and place of origin. It could also be used to track the note as it wends its happy way around the EU.

The plan's authors hope that such tagging will fight the trade in dirty money with the spin-off benefit of pointing the finger at kidnappers and armed blaggers.

It's an interesting idea. With Britain's entry into the happy family of Euronations now seemingly a done deal, there is certainly room for speculation as to how the scheme might be advanced and improved for the greater benefit of humanity.

Indeed, dipping the query ladle into the seething ideas cauldron that is the Vulture Central Think Tank dredged up the following:

  • Online wedge-tracking service for spouses of intemperate spenders: "You told me you paid the mortgage but the cash is in fact behind the Bar of The Red Lion. I'm taking the kids to my mother's."

  • Talking Euros for blind people and confused octogenarians: "No dear, I'm a fifty. Put me back in your purse and look for a five."

  • GPS-enabled Euros which vibrate discreetly when a London taxi driver is taking you round the houses.

  • Self-destructing currency for compulsive gamblers - spontaneous combustion of wallet if they try to enter a bookies.

  • Stress-sensitive chips which record when a note has been rolled tighter than a pre-determined radius and then call the Drugs Squad who can swoop on the ne'er-do-well about to inhale Bolivian Marching Powder.

All good stuff, we're sure you'll agree. Sadly, we fear that what the ECB's new technology will actually demonstrate is not Spanish-based Venezuelans counting vast bin-liners full of drugs money, but rather huge concentrations of euro under subsidised farmers' mattresses and in bank shareholders' wallets. Still, you can always dream... ®

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