There is little doubt that the merging of computer technology with credit and debit cards (see: Plastic Money) to create smart cards was one of the most significant steps on the road to the Mark of the Beast. There is, however, another important technology that has been developed during the same time frame that is also being combined with smart cards and it may prove to be the key to making secure transactions possible in a cashless society. Biometrics is the science of uniquely identifying humans through their physical characteristics, traits, or mannerisms. It is the invention of biometric identification that actually makes the advent of the Mark even more plausible within the very near future.
Since the inception of credit cards, debit cards, and smart cards, there has been an acute need to find a way of securing the cashless system against fraud. The use of Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or passwords has been one of the main security features of the ATM and POS network since its inception; however, it is not the only way or even the best way to operate a secure smart card system. No matter how “smart” a card may become with advanced microprocessors and clever software algorithms, a dishonest person with a stolen card and the right PIN can still make use of it to fraudulently purchase goods and services. Since people have been known to even write their secret number on their ATM cards or on a separate piece of paper left in their wallets, all the technology in the world could not safeguard against such security breaches. In addition, in a cashless society muggers could just steal their victim’s card and demand the correct PIN on the threat of personal harm.
One report found that even with a strong move toward smart card technology in the U.K. nearly 20% of the population has experienced credit or debit card fraud (Burns, S. and Weir, G., Trends in Smartcard Fraud, 2008). To commit fraud, scammers have used counterfeit cards, skimming techniques, interception and theft of new cards from mail deliveries, stolen (or lost) cards, and the use of stolen account numbers and names to make transactions where a card need not be present (i.e., Internet purchases). The fundamental problem is that the international electronic funds transfer (EFT) system still operates with insecure points all along its infrastructure and can be easily taken advantage of by criminals. Smart card technology certainly helps to reduce the incidence of fraud, but it does not completely eliminate it…[read full article]