At the same time that the plastic money revolution was taking place, the rise of electronics technology provided the way to take full advantage of the card concept. When credit cards were first introduced, all accounting operations had to be done by hand. As their use expanded throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, it became apparent that manual paper shuffling would never be efficient enough to handle the sheer volume of transactions and information. Just in time, computer technology came to the rescue. Banks and lending institutions became some of the first industries to computerize their operations and realize huge benefits. Since they typically had to handle the recording of millions if not billions of dollars in transactions every day, the microprocessor became the only option for success.
By the decade of the 1980s, Visa alone had developed a network of more than 13,000 participating banks. Keeping track of every cardholder and transaction would have been impossible without computers. So efficient had their organization become that not much more than three hundred people were needed to run Visa’s entire operation (The Money Lenders, Anthony Sampson, p. 244). At that time, the only non-automated link in the whole network was in the extensive mailing of bills to all the customers who happened to use their cards during the previous month. However, as Sampson pointed out, this weak link was not being overlooked:
“The bankers still yearned for more automation, and they saw their credit cards as only one stage in the development of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), which could bypass people altogether with the help of an ATM (automatic teller machine), an OLTT (on-line teller terminal), and a POS (point-of-sale terminal). Their ambition was to build a system which would allow a customer to make his purchase through a point-of-sale terminal in a shop which would instantly debit his account in New York, or reject him if he had no money or credit. It was a thrilling prospect. There were political complaints of course about Big Brother; but President Ford appointed a national commission on Electronic Funds Transfer which reported in 1977 that the system would benefit consumers by stimulating competition, providing more outlets, and reducing costs, and which was confident that there could be effective safeguards to prevent snooping” (Money Lenders, Sampson, p. 247).
The extensive computer network that is being developed will not only satisfy the needs of an expanding credit and debit card system, but will soon allow the complete elimination of all paper money and coins and convert the global economy into a true cashless society. The slow transition from pure cash transactions to checks and finally to credit and debit cards has only served to condition us for the coming transformation. The globalist think-tank, the Club of Rome, has said,
“…the changes in the nature of society to be envisaged are radical and will permit no mere return to ‘normality'” (Microelectronics and Society, p. 25).
Never has the world been in such a good position to allow the Antichrist’s system to arise. Governments and corporations are feverishly preparing the necessary electronic networks and financial systems to handle an electronic economy of cashless buying and selling along with the very Mark of the Beast itself. All this is being done by the “partly strong and partly broken” (Dan. 2:42) world empire (The Beast) that will soon spawn the Antichrist and his new economic system.
One may wonder why the banking industry would want to make these changes seeing that the economy runs just fine using the present system. In some ways it’s almost as if people everywhere are treading down the path toward the Empire of the Beast with blinders on their eyes. Very few in the world of finance know of the prophecies within the Bible and fewer still would care even if they did know. Nevertheless, the world presses forward to the realization of the Antichrist’s system just as if they were planning for it all along. The fact is, so much time and money has been invested in the movement toward the ultimate electronic goal that there’s now no possibility of turning back. From Microelectronics and Society:
“It must be stressed that the potential benefits which will flow from this new technology are so enormous that there will be no question of avoiding or slowing down their actualization” (p. 25).
In some ways, the changes that have already been made are like fuel for the fire. Literally billions of dollars have been spent to fund the development of the current electronic systems. Banks, government agencies, and businesses around the world have committed themselves to supporting the ever expanding electronic financial networks. They couldn’t stop now even if they wanted to—far too much money has been invested to turn back. The very real prospect of making further gains in efficiency and profitability serves to drive the whole system forward.
The first way to realize this increase in efficiency was through the development of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). The U.S. Department of the Treasury openly advocates this technology and publicizes that EFT payments are secure and cost effective:
“EFT is safe, secure, efficient, and less expensive than paper check payments and collections. While it costs the U.S. government $1.03 to issue each check payment, it costs only 10.5 cents to issue an EFT payment” (http://www.fms.treas.gov/eft/index.html).
In an age of computer technology it was only a matter of time before the processing capabilities of microprocessors would be linked together through electronic networks to provide instantaneous transfer of data and funds. This EFT network was being built even before the advent of the Web or the newer wireless communication networks.
Just as its name implies, EFT is simply the exchange of money through the medium of electronic bits of information. Instead of writing a check or having an armored car transport cash to pay a bill, it became possible to have a computer simply debit one account and credit another. All the while nothing of actual value is exchanged—at least not in the sense of physical transfers of currency or objects having worth. There is no transfer of paper dollars, Euros, or Yen (or any other paper money), no gold bullion changing hands, nothing tangible—only electronic records kept on hard drives within unseen computer servers. This is an incredible transformation that has totally altered the way business has been done for thousands of years; however, most people only realized it was happening through the way their own personal buying and selling changed over the years.
The invention and use of EFT grew side by side with the advances in computer technology. By the mid-1980s, this new system of electronic commerce was being touted and pushed by the media. For instance, one article published in many newspapers stated,
“…with electronic fund transfers, customers can arrange for direct deposit of Social Security checks, Veterans Administration checks, payroll and pension checks, and virtually any other recurring payment. Without ever writing a check or licking a stamp they can make their mortgage or auto loan payment, pay their YMCA dues and insurance premiums and virtually any regular, recurring obligation” (Associated Press, 1984).
What was needed to make EFT a universal standard and transform the operation of financial transactions throughout the world was to link all banking institutions, governments, corporations, and ultimately individuals together into a huge electronic network. Not surprisingly, this network has been developed over the same time frame as all of the other developments related to the prophecies of Christ’s Return.
Next: A Wired Society