Five Times August is the name of a solo music project by Dallas, Texas independent singer/songwriter/guitarist Brad Skistimas. Another one on this same theme entitled Jesus, What Happened To US?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPzc8ROZEjU.
Dr. Tony Evans is the pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He also is the founder of The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. His sermons are Biblically sound and he “walks the walk,” not just talks the talk. Here is a man of God worth noting for how Father has used him to teach thousands of believers how to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is a sharing of a recent email he sent to his contacts, which is adapted from one of his more than 100 books.
Most people think money is the secret to satisfaction. They think that happiness equates to how much money you’ve got at your disposal. But happiness has nothing to do with money. Money isn’t about to solve your problems. In fact, sometimes our problems escalate as our money increases — not the other way around.
That’s why Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
There are so many things money can’t buy. Money can’t buy health. It can’t buy relational harmony. It can’t buy respect, honor, character or esteem. When things go south in any of those areas, if money is all you’ve got working for you, you’ll discover the actual value of money. You’ll learn that money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s so much that matters more than how much money you have in your wallet or your bank account. But it’s very easy to forget that.
As a result, people frequently spend their energy praying for stuff when God wants to give them more than stuff. He wants to give significance, strength, stability and identity. All the stuff in the world doesn’t amount to much if you are so broken, empty or alone that you cannot enjoy it, and you don’t have anyone with whom to share it. Stuff never made anyone smile the way that satisfaction, purpose and even service can. Our world focuses on stuff, while Jesus reminds us what matters most.
For His kingdom,
This content has been adapted from Tony Evans, Kingdom Men Rising, Bethany House Publishers, 2021.
See also the DVD, Kingdom Men Rising. Good stuff!
If you are visiting here before June 19 is over, check out the free No More Excuses teleconference at https://www.ocbfchurch.org/ministries/mens-fellowship/mens-conference/.
Former Clinton Adviser: Mandatory Vaccine Passport Could Lead to ‘End of Human Liberty in the West’ – by Jack Phillips March 29, 2021
Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf said that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports that have been proposed in recent days would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”
“‘Vaccine passport’ sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. I’m [the] CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does,” Wolf, who’s also an author, told Fox News on March 28. “It is not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”
Wolf said such data can be “merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency,” adding that “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans.”
Wolf noted that it happened in Israel, “and six months later, we’re hearing from activists that it’s a two-tiered society and that basically, activists are ostracized and surveilled continually. It is the end of civil society, and they are trying to roll it out around the world.”
“It is absolutely so much more than a vaccine pass, it is — I can not stress enough that it has the power to turn off your life, or to turn on your life, to let you engage in society or be marginalized.”
Going a step further, Wolf likened such plans to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance of its population and promotion of a “social credit score.”
A handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)
“How does [the CCP] keep a billion people under the thumb of a totalitarian regime?” she asked. “The CCP can find any dissident within five minutes, and that can happen here literally within months.”
Wolf referred to reports about Biden administration officials proposing the idea. The Washington Post and CNN — citing anonymous, unconfirmed sources — have suggested that the administration is working toward developing a national vaccine passport standard. New York state has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The plan has been lambasted by civil liberties groups and proponents.
On March 29, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the claims, saying the administration doesn’t see a federal mandate for vaccine passports. “We believe it will be driven by the private sector,” she told reporters.
In other countries, such passports have already been created. Israel set one up in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, Iceland now uses a passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who are inoculated.
“The thing underpinning all of this is, what are you going to use it for?” said Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Is it for international travel? Is it for getting a job? Is it for buying milk?”
As so much despair has gripped our nation during this difficult time, I decided to go into our nation’s most distressed communities with a message of hope and truth. I have been working on policy issues dealing with race and poverty through my organization, UrbanCURE, for 25 years.
We purchased billboard space in hard-hit cities across the nation and posted a short, time-tested message that strikes at the heart of what drives poverty. The billboards show a picture of a young black man or young black woman and say: “Tired of Poverty? Finish school. Take any job. Get married. Save and invest. Give back to your neighborhood.” The billboard then refers to Proverbs 10:4, which says, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
This is a message delivered with care and love. It’s a message I know is true. It is so true that it produced an immediate reaction from Black Lives Matter, which contacted the billboard company, Clear Channel Outdoor, demanding that the billboards be taken down.
Claims from Black Lives Matter — laced, of course, with profanity — that our message is racist, inaccurate, and self-hating are a crude distortion of reality.
I know the accuracy of our message from my experience in life. I was once a young woman with disdain for the “establishment,” living off welfare and going nowhere. Then two Christian businessmen straightened me out. Their message and guidance saved my life.
Aside from my personal experience and my daily learning as a Christian, I also know the truth of this message from years of policy work that has been going on in Washington. The impact of the “success sequence” on poverty is well documented. Brookings Institution scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill published their findings in their book “Creating an Opportunity Society,” in which they report that those who follow three steps — finish high school, get a full-time job, and get married before having children — face a 2% chance of being poor.
Brad Wilcox and Wendy Wang of the American Enterprise Institute followed on this work, showing that among millennials — ages 28-35 — there was a 53% incidence of poverty among those who did not follow these steps and a 3% incidence among those who did.
But regardless of whether or not you want to believe me or agree with me, what about freedom of expression? What about the inherent importance of keeping dialogue open and free in our nation, with a goal of reaching truth? How can shutting down communication serve anyone’s interests?
Shutting down dialogue, shutting down free and open exchange of ideas, is exactly what Black Lives Matter wants. It said as much in a Facebook post to the billboard vendor that read, “At the end of the day, messaging and narrative control is priceless.”
Unfortunately, Clear Channel Outdoor responded to the intimidation of Black Lives Matter and took down UrbanCURE’s billboards, saying, “We strive to respect a wide variety of viewpoints on diversity and racial sensitivity.” But can shutting down a powerful and truthful message because Black Lives Matter doesn’t like it reflect respect for “a wide variety of viewpoints”? The nation’s shock after the terrible murder of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman was justifiable. But the pushback unfortunately put wind in the sails of Black Lives Matter.
The question is: What does America, and what do black Americans, need? What will fix our problems? For sure, suppression of free expression will make no one better off. These are communities that need truth, that need love, that need empowerment.
This is the message we are delivering at UrbanCURE.
I hope Clear Channel Outdoor has a change of heart and is not intimidated by Black Lives Matter to breach contract and not publicize UrbanCURE’s message on its billboards.
I am going to be out of it this weekend, as I am working for the US Census as long as no one shuts down our ACO (Area Census Office) because of Covid-19. I have been very disappointed in the laissez-faire attitude of some of the office staff towards those of us in the “high-risk” age group. However, my manager and leaders at the office are stepping up to protect us, even offering to deliver supplies so that I will not have to visit the office.
But all we need is one case from someone not wearing a mask to infect the numerous people in the office and – whammo – the whole staff could be shut down. So I really hope that our managers take the concern of some of us who want to work there to heart. I really enjoy the job, but it is not worth dying for. This weekend I have the honor of assisting with training some of the 350 Enumerators that will work our area of the country, and my co-trainer agrees that we will firmly enforce the mask policy as cases of Covid-19 are significantly increasing in our area.
That said, this is the weekend blog that will get me back on schedule, but it is also a guest blog from Liz Crokin. Trump is certainly not a saint or in any risk of being confused with one, but everyone has good and bad in them. The question is which will rule our hearts, and only Father really knows what is in the spirit of a man or woman.
These incidences are anecdotal, but they are telling that without a conservative investigating, most media will never tell you about these positive events.
TRUMP DOES THE UNTHINKABLE. by Liz Crokin
Orange Man Bad. Sorry, what?
As an entertainment journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to cover Trump for over a decade, and in all my years covering him I’ve never heard anything negative about the man until he announced he was running for president. Keep in mind, I got paid a lot of money to dig up dirt on celebrities like Trump for a living, so a scandalous story on the famous billionaire could’ve potentially sold a lot of magazines and would’ve been a huge feather in my cap.
Instead, I found that he doesn’t drink alcohol or do drugs, he’s a hardworking businessman. On top of that, he’s one of the most generous celebrities in the world with a heart filled with more gold than his $100 million New York penthouse.
Since the media has failed so miserably at reporting about Trump, I decided to put together some of the acts of kindness he’s committed over three decades which have gone virtually unnoticed or fallen on deaf ears.
In 1986, Trump prevented the foreclosure of Annabell Hill’s family farm after her husband committed suicide. Trump personally phoned down to the auction to stop the sale of her home and offered the widow money. Trump decided to take action after he saw Hill’s pleas for help in news reports.
In 1988, a commercial airline refused to fly Andrew Ten, a sick Orthodox Jewish child with a rare illness, across the country to get medical care because he had to travel with an elaborate life-support system. His grief-stricken parents contacted Trump for help and he didn’t hesitate to send his own plane to take the child from Los Angeles to New York so he could get his treatment.
In 1991, 200 Marines who served in Operation Desert Storm spent time at Camp Lejune in North Carolina before they were scheduled to return home to their families. However, the Marines were told that a mistake had been made and an aircraft would not be able to take them home on their scheduled departure date. When Trump got wind of this, he sent his plane to make two trips from North Carolina to Miami to safely return the Gulf War Marines to their loved ones.
In 1995, a motorist stopped to help Trump after the limo he was traveling in got a flat tire. Trump asked the Good Samaritan how he could repay him for his help. All the man asked for was a bouquet of flowers for his wife. A few weeks later Trump sent the flowers with a note that read: We’ve paid off your mortgage.
In 1996, Trump filed a lawsuit against the city of Palm Beach, Florida, accusing the town of discriminating against his Mar-a-Lago resort club because it allowed Jews and blacks. Abraham Foxman, who as the Anti-Defamation League Director at the time, said Trump put the light on Palm Beach not on the beauty and the glitter, but on its seamier side of discrimination. Foxman also noted that Trump’s charge had a trickle-down effect because other clubs followed his lead and began admitting Jews and blacks.
In 2000, Maury Povich featured a little girl named Megan who struggled with Brittle Bone Disease on his show and Trump happened to be watching. Trump said the little girl’s story and positive attitude touched his heart. So he contacted Maury and gifted the little girl and her family with a very generous check.
In 2008, after Jennifer Hudson’s family members were tragically murdered in Chicago , Trump put the Oscar-winning actress and her family up at his Windy City hotel for free. In addition to that, Trump’s security took extra measures to ensure Hudson and her family members were safe during such a difficult time.
In 2013, New York bus driver Darnell Barton spotted a woman close to the edge of a bridge staring at the traffic below as he drove by. He stopped the bus, got out and put his arm around the woman and saved her life by convincing her to not jump. When Trump heard about this story, he sent the hero bus driver a check simply because he believed his good deed deserved to be rewarded.
In 2014, Trump gave $25,000 to Sgt. Andrew Tamoressi after he spent seven months in a Mexican jail for accidentally crossing the US-Mexico border. President Barack Obama couldn’t even be bothered to make one phone call to assist with the United States Marine’s release. However, Trump opened his pocketbook to help this serviceman get back on his feet.
In 2016, Melissa Consin Young attended a Trump rally and tearfully thanked Trump for changing her life. She said she proudly stood on stage with Trump as Miss Wisconsin USA in 2005. However, years later she found herself struggling with an incurable illness and during her darkest days, she explained that she received a handwritten letter from Trump telling her she’s the bravest woman, I know. She said the opportunities that she got from Trump and his organizations ultimately provided her Mexican-American son with a full-ride to college.
Lynne Patton, a black female executive for the Trump Organization, released a statement in 2016 defending her boss against accusations that he’s a racist and a bigot. She tearfully revealed how she’s struggled with substance abuse and addiction for years. Instead of kicking her to the curb, she said the Trump Organization and his entire family loyally stood by her through immensely difficult times.
Donald Trump’s kindness knows no bounds and his generosity has and continues to touch the lives of people from every sex, race, and religion. When Trump sees someone in need, he wants to help.
Two decades ago, Oprah asked Trump in a TV interview if he’d ever run for president. He said: “If it got so bad; I would never want to rule it out totally because I really am tired of seeing what’s happening with this country.'”
That day has come. Trump sees that America is in need and he wants to help. How unthinkable! On the other hand, have you ever heard of Hillary or Obama ever doing such things with their own resources?
Now that’s really unthinkable! Might be worth passing on!!!
If, like me, you believe in an approaching end of history as we have known it, you will find the attached article interesting to say the least. If you believe the end of history involves a return of Jesus, called the Christ or the Son of God, the coming change in the way money is ‘manufactured,’ distributed and controlled and the issues raised in the article are a portend of the shape of the world at its end.
Even if you do not believe in Jesus as a Messiah nor in his literal return, the article bears careful reading as the change in currency and the way money is regulated will affect us all. This is not an issue of, “If,” but rather, “How soon?”
Consider that on June 28, 1914, a 19-year-old Serbian nationalist shot and killed the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife at point-blank range. Austria-Hungary was furious and with Germany’s support, declared war on Serbia, initiating The Great War, which we now call WWI.
When British Prime Minister showed a copy of a treaty with Hitler and declared, “Peace in our time,” in September 1938, he was only six months out from Germany’s breach of the treaty that propelled the Europe into its second World War.
The USA, deferring to isolationists in our country, stayed out to the war until a fateful morning raid on on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese air force that blasted Pearl Harbor into the ocean. By the end of the day, in an era before the internet, US government officials had gathered and on the next day declared war.
Life changed for millions of people overnight on November 9, 1989, with the “fall of the Berlin wall.” America responded immediately to the invasion of our county by radical terrorists on September 11, 2001, such that “9/11” is as emblazoned in our vocabulary as “Remember the Alamo” was in the minds of the people of 1836.
Instant information is accessible 24/7/365 and the shift from cash to digital currency will probably be as swift or faster than any of these listed previous events in history. How soon after will a “mark” be required to buy or sell? What will be the nature of said “mark?” A biometric identifier? An implanted chip?
We should not make predictions of end time events before they happen, as we who are Christ-followers are not prone to sensationalism or panic, and too much ink and attention has been given in times past to attempts to identify the “other-Christ” who will lead most of the world in rebellion against The God Who Is There.
However, it is hard to imagine a better presage to the Second Coming of the Christ than what will happen to the nature of currency in our lifetime.
Brace for the Digital-Money Wars
Digitizing the Chinese yuan—and eventually the dollar—would open new fronts in the fight over privacy and trade.
THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE — The National Security Council holds an emergency meeting. North Korea has launched a missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead within range of U.S. forces in Guam. At this rate, North Korea could land a nuke on the U.S. mainland in less than a year.
The shocking advance in capability despite heavy trade sanctions is due to a stream of money that the U.S. and its allies cannot monitor — a cryptocurrency. But it is not one of the risky ones celebrated by overnight millionaires and largely avoided by serious investors, it is a new one, with the stamp of legitimacy: the digital yuan.
The scenario above is fiction, but it is not fantasy. If China digitizes its currency, as it plans to do, and the North Koreans use it to finance their missile program, it is a flow of money that circumvents U.S. sanctions. That would force the U.S. to grapple with its own now-antiquated currency. If the U.S. follows suit, digitizing the dollar in order to maintain its global economic dominance, it would also find itself in possession of a potentially powerful surveillance tool.
While bitcoin, the first successful cryptocurrency, was created to maintain anonymity in transactions, future digital currencies will be the opposite of anonymous.
And just as every transaction involving a digital yuan would be trackable by China, every digital dollar changing hands would be visible to the U.S., its issuing government. Banks might still manage the flow of money, but they will no longer be the record-keepers they once were.
“The fundamental nature of money is really changing,” said Neha Narula, the director of MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative.
Dr. Narula played the president’s “cyber czar” in an enactment of the hypothetical North Korea scenario staged last month at Harvard’s Kennedy School. “Digital Currency Wars” also featured former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as well as Ash Carter and Gary Gensler, all of whom have served in presidential administrations.
We are moving rapidly into a new monetary era. Countries and companies are looking at digital money as the new standard for their monetary systems and a replacement for actual cash.
Some of the benefits include faster, cheaper payments, a greater ability to root out money launderers, and a more open, inclusive financial system. Digital money is also going to provide new abilities to law enforcement and governments that will almost certainly open up another front in the fight over privacy.
“Privacy is one of the defining problems of our times,” said Emin Gün Sirer, chief executive of blockchain-based startup Ava Labs and a professor of computer science at Cornell University, and it will be with money, too. In practice, he said, it is almost impossible to create a form of digital money that doesn’t identify its users.
What we think of as “money” is actually an extraordinarily complex network of thousands of commercial banks and central banks. The system works but is costly and relatively inefficient because everybody is working off their own balance sheets. Digital money would create a system where everybody using a particular currency is working off the same balance sheet.
The idea of bitcoin, unveiled 11 years ago, was to compress the cumbersome functions of the modern financial system to enable money to move anywhere around the world, in minutes, for virtually no cost. If you have ever tried to send even $10 across a border, you can appreciate the allure in this.
But bitcoin was just Act One. Act Two began this summer, when Facebook uncovered its proposed cryptocurrency, libra. This wasn’t some loose confederation of cypher-punks and anti-bankers. Suddenly, one of the world’s biggest, most powerful (and most controversial) companies was saying it was going to make money.
A flurry of action followed. The U.S. Congress convened hearings and wrote bills to stop libra from launching. Regulators leaned on some of its original supporters to back out. The Bank of England’s Mark Carney suggested an international cryptocurrency should replace the dollar as the world’s new reserve currency. The Chinese went further. They took their own efforts into overdrive and are widely expected to launch a digital version of the yuan in the coming months.
“This is more than just Venmo, more than just PayPal,” said Aditi Kumar, executive director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and playwright of “Digital Currency Wars.” “This is an entirely new way for countries to operate in the world,” she added. “It will make one or two actors all-powerful in the monetary system.”
The digital yuan China is planning is in fact a complete inversion of the bitcoin model. All of the data created would be centrally housed and become part of China’s surveillance state.
Money has always been a powerful, blunt instrument. It is an imposition not just of will, but of values. After World War II, the dollar became the foundation of the international monetary system. That gave the U.S. government a special tool. The U.S. has used its control over the dollar-based finance system to impose sanctions such as the ones on North Korea.
As the U.S. share of the global economy shrinks and that of countries like China and India expand, countries are actively seeking alternatives to the dollar.
In the fictional North Korea missile crisis, China would be tacitly allowing the financing of Pyongyang’s nuclear program to go through, because the government would be able to see where each digital yuan goes. That is an extreme, and entirely hypothetical scenario, of course, but it is an example of the leverage China would have over every transaction on its system. The only question is how heavy-handed the Chinese would be in using it.
While the Chinese model might be the far end of the spectrum, cryptocurrency has been moving in that direction. While bitcoin was designed to mimic the anonymity of cash in a digital setting, all its transactions are public, and therefore trackable. And Facebook’s libra would log transaction data, while recording user identities in a separate database. A central concern in Congress is what Facebook would do with that information.
Say the Federal Reserve digitized the U.S. currency. It could track how every dollar in circulation is spent. That might give it a great advantage in trying to figure out how the economy is growing, and where stimulus efforts would best be directed. But say people in government wanted to lock down some group or activity. They could do that, too. The role of banks would likely change considerably as well, though whether they gain or lose with a digital dollar would depend on how the government issued it.
Whether the U.S. will feel pressure to shift to digital still is not clear. There are proponents and opponents of cryptocurrencies in Congress. The Fed has examined the idea of creating a digital dollar, but that is all it has done.
At Harvard, Mr. Summers and his fellow stage actors spent some time debating this point. Some felt the U.S. should get in the game, others believed all they needed to do was make improvements to the existing system.
People need to start thinking about this now, Harvard’s Ms. Kumar said. China’s digital yuan will be a real-world proof of concept. The West will need to respond in some way. “Are we prepared for that?” she said. “Not just technically, but legally? Can we protect privacy in this new world?”
Write to Paul Vigna at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.’