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As Europe mulls the idea of implanting radio chips into euro notes, Japan has gone a step further with plans to incorporoate the controversial technology in currency that will enter circulation next year.

New 10,000 Yen bills (worth about £51) currently entering production are to be implanted with IC chips from Hitachi in a bid to combat counterfeiters and money launderers, according to Japanese reports relayed to us by Osaka-based Reg Reader D. Michael Ramirez.

Notes will come with Hitachi's 0.3mm "mew-chip" which responds to radio signals by sending out a 128-bit number. This information could include a serial number with the date and place of origin of a note. Each chip costs around 50 Yen (26p).

Yesterday the Japanese programme World Business Satellite, ran a story about the new bills, Ramirez tells us.

"They placed about 50 or so in a bottle and then took pictures of the bottle, live, on air, with the announcer holding the bottle spotted with IC chips for all the viewers to see," he said.

Already, privacy activists and some technologists are already voicing their concern over the privacy implications of RFID tags attached supermarket goods. Such fears can only be magnified when this technology is included in the money in our pockets. ®

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