Cash and privacy are going away. For decades, people have become increasingly dependent on credit cards, debit cards, and electronic means of payment like digital wallets. Many businesses decided to go "cashless" and "contactless" after the pandemic started. It has been a little over decades, but the world is rapidly embracing a cashless society. The younger generations can’t relate to the shared experience of most people reading this article. Believe it or not, people carried cash, wrote checks, and didn’t even have the internet or cell phones. Young people look at paper checks like a relic from the Jurassic era. The next leap in the cashless society is contactless, biometric payment options. Biometric payment options connect a person’s financial information to their DNA, like fingerprints or a face scan. Biometric payment options are here.
The Bank of Qatar just released FacePay. FacePay uses facial recognition technology and allows people to pay with their face without having to show a card or smartphone. FacePay is set up by scanning a QR code or uploading a selfie and credit card information. VISA partnered with Qatar to create a prepaid credit card with facial recognition for the World Cup. Maybe FacePay is designed to be a novelty. It is well known that Qatar wants to build Doha as a tourist destination like Dubai, UAE. The problem with dismissing it as a tourist attraction gimmick is in Russia.
The Moscow Metro has a face biometric ticketing option at 330 terminals. More than 220,000 Russians signed up for the FacePay in 2022. The Russian Metro operator began testing the FacePay terminals in August 2021. It fully rolled them out in October 2021. Face scanning technology applications are not limited to Qatar and Russia.
Japan is about to join the FacePay party. In March, Japan will begin testing a FacePay system like Russia’s Metro . Railway stations in the cities of Osaka and Shin-Osaka will utilize facial recognition technologies for payment. The passenger needs to submit a photo and billing information. Cameras will match the face to the image allowing the person to walk through the gates without touching anything.
Biometric payment options are present in the U.S. also. Amazon has palm scanners in 65 Whole Foods locations. The customer scans their palm and adds financial information. They hold their palm in front of the scanner whenever they want to pay. What could go wrong if you scan your fingerprints, connect a bank account, and then send it to the internet?
British Airways is testing a contactless face scan for check-in and boarding for international flights to Malaga, Spain. The flyer takes a picture of their boarding pass and passport before arriving at the airport. When they arrive at London's Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, a Smart Bio-Pod camera identifies the person within three seconds. The flyer does not need to show any identification or a passport the entire time they are in the airport. The test will last six months. If it is successful, the program will expand. There are several other examples of the world moving toward biometrics.
What Does It Mean?
There is an adage about frogs and boiling water. Suppose you place a frog in a pot of water and slowly increase the heat. In that case, the frog's blood will naturally adapt to the rising temperature. However, if the temperature spikes too fast, the frog will defend itself and jump out of the water. The increase must be slow and gradual for the frog to accept it. It will realize the dangers only when it is too late. Look back at where we have been and try to guess where we are going. The rise of a cashless society has taken decades of training for people to accept. It is closer than most realize. It's about 95% here. Do you think a cashless, contactless, privacy-less society is good or bad for freedom? Is the temperature rising? As the government funds the IRS to monitor bank accounts, do we need to get out of the pot?
As more people accept biometric payment options, criminals will inevitably discover a way to hack the system. The technology is already so advanced that anyone can go to the Apple App store today to download apps that make "deep fake" videos. The apps can take images of a person and turn them into live-action, saying whatever you want them to say. If you want to stop trusting everything and everyone online, watch some deep fake videos to see how scary the technology is. It is a small technological leap from what already exists to faking biometric data. Imagine the technology in five years. Last week, economists at the Davos Conference (the George Soros and Klaus Schwab crowd) said there is a 93% consensus that a catastrophic cyber event will happen in the next two years. Does anyone want to send their biometric data to the internet?
As you would expect, every article I write for the Gold Bureau usually ends with a short pitch about why gold is the answer. More times than not, the argument is solid and economical. Gold is a counterbalance to the weakening Dollar and protection against inflation. Today the discussion is about freedom, privacy, and having choices. Take a moment to think about what the world would be like if facial recognition technology was everywhere. Is such a world designed for convenient shopping or a guise for a thinly veiled police state? Either way, everything you purchase, the amount of time you spend looking at an item, the media you consume, and observable behaviors will give marketers or the government a very detailed psychological profile. Suppose you want choices outside the digital and biometric payment systems. In that case, you will need a physical commodity for transactions. Is there a more logical answer than gold? Gold is the money of kings, has endured for 5,000 years, and is accepted everywhere on earth. Gold is accepted in more places than Federal Express cards and doesn't require a facial scan.
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