An important idea to keep in mind when considering conundrums of future events is this: God does not give prophecy so you and I can adjust our bank accounts or buy or sell stock for better returns, nor does He provide it so we can get a cabin in the mountains and hide away with stashes of disinfected water and canned goods while the rest of the world collapses in on itself.
Jesus laid out why He tells us things before they occur in John 14:29: “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” Though He says this in specific reference to His death and resurrection, the principle is applicable to all prophecy of future events. He knew the disciples to whom he was speaking would not understand until the events he was foretelling unfolded.
In the same way, we are not given warnings about the end times so we can buffer our investments, live easy lives, and avoid trouble while the rest of the world rots. Rather He tells us so that we will realize He is still in control when the rest of the world is shivering in fear. “In the 21st century, what will make Christians distinct from the rest of the culture is not what they do or don’t do or shouldn’t do. What will make them distinct, make them stand out, is that they won’t be afraid.” (Marilyn Elliott)
Does anyone else remember the old movies of the 1970s about the Second Coming of Jesus? The Thief in the Night comes to mind, minted in 1972 when many special effects were still in their infancy. The “UNITE” trucks rounded up people to take a mark on their hands or foreheads to be able to buy or sell anything, and anyone who refused to take said mark would be executed as an anti-government anarchist. In one scene an old codger was asked where he wanted his mark and he responded something like, “Put it right there on my forehead so everyone can see I believe in the government.”
When I was a child, the idea of a world government seemed laughable and a union of European countries under one flag was actually laughed at by my Social Studies teacher in junior high school. The melodramatic pictures presented in those early films seemed silly and so unlikely that I doubt very many were convinced of the possibilities portrayed unless one was already a believer in a literal view of the end times in the Bible.
THE Antichrist will not be some demonic figure with an evil glare of fiery eyes and flames coming from his fingers, ala Star Wars. There have been many ‘antichrists’ in the world all through history and many are here now (1 John 2;18-19). However, one is coming who will be a world figure that will lead much of the world into the Great Tribulation. He will not advocate a dramatic change in the way things are done, but rather seem to provide the best answers to the world’s problems of immigration and emigration, to financial markets and debt, to crime and punishment, to international relationships. He will be THE answer man who seems to have everything under good control, and his modus operandi will be to bring cooperation to what have been insurmountable peace obstacles, particularly in the Middle East.
One of the ways he will effect change is in the way we do business, which will seem like the logical way to do things. The “mark of the beast” will be required to be able to buy or sell (Revelation 13:16-17), and anyone without it will be in great difficulty. Again, in modern history, the idea of a “mark” was something absurd to most Westerners as though the vast majority would resist any kind of tattoo. Now it is difficult to find a sales clerk without one . . . and one begins to wonder.
But we will not need to get a visible tattoo if the Wall Street Journal is anything but financially savvy. Monday’s paper on September 24, 2018, presented a piece on “Changing Credit-Card Tech” that is chilling for anyone who takes seriously Bible prophecy. The subtitle is “As companies update how they verify identities, Europe offers a glimpse of the future.” The full article is at the end of this blog.
Biometrics are coming to a retailer near you soon! In all likelihood, some of us already use biometric identification for purchases or at least, to open our phones. So it makes me wonder what exactly is the Mark of the Beast? “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.” (Revelation 13:18)
It probably is not a birthmark at the crown of someone’s head as in the Damien horror films. It probably has little to do with markings on kilos of cocaine coming out of South America or with the barcodes that appear on all our products. The issue of the Mark of the Beast is not the product, regardless of the conspiracies one can read about on the internet. The Mark of the Beast is to identify the buyer or seller as cooperating with the system established by the “king who exalts himself.” (Daniel 11:36-39)
What better way to identify anyone but with a biometric that is unreproducible in another body? No password nor PIN to forget; no card or key or passcode to lose. Your id is YOU.
I wonder what this bodes for children and grandkids just entering the world stage. How will they be paying?
I Wish We’d All Been Ready by Larry Norman
By Mischa Frankl-Duval
Sept. 23, 2018 10:06 p.m. ET
Credit-card companies, banks and vendors are changing how they verify consumers’ identities. Passwords and PINs could become less important. Biometric analysis could become the norm.
The proving ground for the latest in payment technology is Europe, where a new law could encourage greater use of biometrics in a bid to reduce burgeoning payment fraud.
Starting September 2019 in the European Union, a large portion of online payments greater than €30 (currently about $35) will require multifactor authentication. Consumers will need to use two of three things to verify transactions: something they know, like a password; something they have, like a digital device, perhaps a USB token, that identifies them; or something they are: biometric data. (bold italics added)
Proofs based on physical characteristics, like fingerprints and faces, are slowly becoming more common. This legislation will likely cause them to surge.
Most consumers using biometrics will likely do so on their phones, many of which already have technology that payment-service providers will use to verify payments—such as Apple Inc.’s Touch ID fingerprint sensors or Face ID facial-recognition software on its iPhones.
Making the payment process frictionless could determine which providers prosper—and which languish.
“We’re helping the industry move toward biometrics as a preferred method,” says Mark Nelsen, senior vice president at Visa Inc. “Customers are getting more comfortable with those solutions, and they’re our preferred method, too.”
Another company hoping to profit from the change is Veridium, a New York-based biometrics firm.
“We’ve built our company around trying not to change the way you interact with technology too radically,” says Chief Executive James Stickland. “You could plug in Touch ID or Face ID, and that’s great because people are used to it.”
Veridium also provides an authentication technology it calls 4F that turns smartphones, even older models, into fingerprint scanners.
Ease of use will be paramount to companies in the payment-services and biometrics sector. Vendors and payment-services providers “have to meet requirements on the fraud side and provide a good user experience,” says Frances Zelazny, chief marketing officer at BioCatch, a firm based in Boston. “If they can’t manage their fraud, they’ll go away,” Ms. Zelazny says. “And if they can’t manage their user experience, they’ll go away” because consumers won’t use them.
Behind the scenes, BioCatch and other biometrics companies are working on technology called behavioral biometrics. That technology allows vendors and payment providers to analyze users’ actions and habits to determine whether a transaction should be considered valid. Criteria include whether the transaction is in line with a user’s usual spending pattern, made from a familiar location, or aimed at someone who often receives payments from that user.
“With touch-screen devices, we have a lot of sensors, so we’re able to infer how you swipe, the pressure you put on the screen, how much of your finger you’d leave on the button as you pause before the next one,” says Dr. Neil Costigan, CEO of BehavioSec, a behavioral biometrics firm. “Not so much what you’re doing as how you’re doing it.”
Though behavioral biometrics can’t be used as one of the three proofs mandated by the EU regulation, the EU guidelines say that payments of €30 to €500 will be exempt from multifactor authentication if they are judged to be sufficiently safe—a determination that behavioral biometrics can help to make. Smoother, more secure verification processes minimize false alarms when cards are declined, thus reducing abandoned purchases.
Still, biometric solutions face barriers to adoption. Veridium’s Mr. Stickland says: “People’s education is probably the most immature element of utilization. The end user has to be more aware.”
“What concerns us is consumer awareness,” says Visa’s Mr. Nelsen. “We know the consumer has no idea really what this regulation means.” And, he adds, “with hundreds of millions of customers making online payments, and millions of merchants receiving them, older technologies won’t disappear overnight.”
Meanwhile, even if customers do take to biometrics, a full rollout of the technology may take some time.
“Part of the challenge has been lethargy. We’ve seen that with chip and PIN in the U.S.,” says Mr. Stickland, referring to the card industry’s ponderous transition away from requiring signature-based payments.
As a result, he says, the move away from plastic cards—and toward mobile-based authentication—is “probably a 10-year journey, not a two-year journey. But I think plastic will be gone altogether in 10 years.”
Passwords, too, will be around for quite some time. Mr. Nelsen says that biometrics systems already in place still use passwords as backups for authentication.
“The only way to get rid of passwords is to have a number of biometrics, so if one fails, you can use another one,” he says. “We’ll start to see more biometrics used to verify identity…. You’ll walk up to the counter, use face recognition to initiate the payment, and that’s it.”
Mr. Frankl-Duval is a Wall Street Journal reporter in London. This appeared in the September 24, 2018, print edition as ‘Changing Credit-Card Tech.’