June 15, 2009

"Cash to become extinct as chips take off."

A headline from Australia that baffled me a little. The "chips" are computer chips, and the prediction is that your portable electronic device — basically, your phone — will become your means of paying for everything.

This is all very nice, but my iPhone is already making me nervous. I won't leave my passwords in it for fear of theft. Can they please figure out how to make the thing work only when I'm touching it?

(And, yes, I know about passcodes, but: 1. I don't want to be bothered entering a code every time I use the phone, and 2. Thieves sometimes snatch the phone right out of your hand while you're using it.)

51 comments:

Hunter McDaniel said...

Or thieves put a gun to your head and demand the passcode.

Ann Althouse said...

As long as I get away and report it and the cops get the phone company to use the GPS to track them down.

SteveR said...

In a related (well sort of..) item, a friend of my daughter dropped her keys at school and the kid who found them just walked around the parking lot, clicking on the little button til he saw the lights blink. Easy theft.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't have a cell phone.

Now what?

Hunter McDaniel said...

"In a related (well sort of..) item, a friend of my daughter dropped her keys at school and the kid who found them just walked around the parking lot, clicking on the little button til he saw the lights blink. Easy theft"

The thief had probably seen "While You Were Sleeping", no doubt.

AJ Lynch said...

Our local transit agency is spending like $150 Million to implement a new fare system that will let you pay with your phone or shoe-phone (I forget exactly).

How cool (or dumb in my opinion) is that? Doesn't everyone have a bank card they could use??

It's like the healthcare debate - let's modify the whole system to accomodate 5% or so of the people.

LarsPorsena said...

"Or thieves put a gun to your head and demand the passcode."

Please, we all know that torture and threats of physical violence never produce any real information.

Jeremy said...

"A headline from Australia that baffled me a little. The "chips" are computer chips, and the prediction is that your portable electronic device — basically, your phone — will become your means of paying for everything."

I had a similar discussion with a business associate in Canada recently. He said smart cards (cell phones included) would eliminate much of the currency we now use.

Just think of how often you use a debit card instead of cash. They're the initial stage...

Jeremy said...

Dust Bunny Queen said..."I don't have a cell phone."

You're kidding, right?

Jeremy said...

SteveR said..."...just walked around the parking lot, clicking on the little button til he saw the lights blink. Easy theft."

The next time you pull onto your street...do the same thing with your garage remote...see how many doors open.

SteveR said...

The thief had probably seen "While You Were Sleeping", no doubt.

He probably learned the technique in gang initiation training.

traditionalguy said...

Your account can accessed by a radio transmission and a password like on-line banking with a wifi hooked PC. The accounts can be digitally monitored by The terrorist surveilance powers of the G'ment. The only question left is how soon will a "counterfeiting crisis" force elimination antediluvian currency? In the meantime the need to control the World's Climate usage will override all antediluvian fears since Scientists say there is a Flood of Bad Air that has to be stopped. I could become a Democrat Politician or write for the NYT with these ideas.

Patrick said...

How big a deal is it? Think of metro smartcards - it is just like using your smartcard to pay for more things, like coffee.

Also, in the US you can already use your debit/credit card to pay for nearly everything, there is almost never a threshold like in nearly every other country (one exception: antediluvian friggin DC taxis).

In my case, I just top my metro-card up every week or so. I have registered it so that I can cancel it if I lose it - I get to keep the cash balance if I do, too.

Really, would it change your life that much?

Treacle said...

Pedro has drilled a discrete hole through the case his iPhone is in. He's looped a thin but very durable chain between that hole and his Prince Albert. He's been happy to discover that even if someone tries to grab his iPhone (as happened during Pride this past weekend), he keeps his phone and gets a delightful tug in the process.

blake said...

Patrick's right. There'll probably be an advancement--fingerprints?--to make it EVEN MORE CONVENIENT to spend your money, or someone else's that they've lent to you at a reasonable rate, but it won't be that huge a deal.

The debit/credit card expansion was the big shift. Before that, when you ran out of money, you just couldn't "do any more things" as Louis CK put it.

BJM said...

Last summer I was at a fuel stop south of Utrecht filling the car when the guy at the next pump pulled out his cell phone to pay the tab. I asked him how it worked.

Europeans can "beam" (IR) funds between cell phones and pay points. It was still in EU wide roll-out mode, but majorly cool.

Given that a substantial percentage of our economy is gray and crime runs on cash, eliminating currency is inevitable.

btw- You can buy an inexpensive garage door signal scrambler add-on that transmits a unique code each time you press the opener and only responds to the encoded send unit.

MadisonMan said...

Cue Eric Idle and The Money Programme.

Ralph L said...

I suppose they'll include a thumb print reader for security.

My boss refuses to accept credit/debit cards. He doesn't want to pay the fees or raise our prices. We have to turn several people away every week. I'd never actually handled a $100 bill before I worked here.

BJM said...

@DBQ The govt will "give" you one, of course, silly goose!

Who knew Alexander Graham Bell would be the father of Whirled Peas and Universal Harmony!

Ralph L said...

gets a delightful tug in the process.
Shudder. (for the PA)
Crosses legs. (for the tug)

traditionalguy said...

The day currency is illegal is the day everyone becomes a serf. Serfs cannot travel. Serfs are transferred with the land like the trees are.The nobility control the land like Obama controls the banks and the Auto business and the value of american units of the exchange now called Dollars by antediluvian serfs like Sarah Palin.

blake said...

Ralph--

Drug dealer?

Robert Cook said...

Just think of how often you use a debit card instead of cash. They're the initial stage...




I never use a debit card and in fact I don't have one. I have two credit cards and an ATM card. My bank sent me a debit card when my ATM card was about to expire and I contacted them and told them I didn't want it, I wanted a plain old ATM card. They sent me a plain old non-debit ATM card.

If I don't have cash on me to make a purchase, I either get the cash or, only if necessary, use a credit card.

As for iPhone security, if you're a Mobile Me subscriber--I am not--you'll be able to A)locate your missing iPhone using it's built in GPS technology and/or B)wipe all the data on it remotely. This functionality will be available with the new iPhone 3.0 software, due out in two days.

daredevil_66 said...

Yeah this is a terrific idea to keep all our wealth on computer chips. It's not like a solar flare or an EMP blast or the magnetic poles swaping could possibly effect this ironclad way of distingushing wealth.

wordsprite said...

Mark of the Beast.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Dust Bunny Queen said..."I don't have a cell phone."

You're kidding, right?

Nope. I bought a disposable phone for when I'm traveling: in case I want to call for road service, make a reservation or call my husband to pick me up or meet up somewhere. I still have 45 minutes of time left on the hour that I bought 6 months ago.

My husband has a pay as you go cell phone and just buys time when his minutes run low. He never turns it on unless he wants to make an outgoing call. We don't give out the number and have disconnected the voice mailbox because he doesn't want to receive calls and usually is out of cell range anyway.

Why should I have a cell phone? I sit in an office connected to 3 phone lines, wearing a head set at work with 2 computers all the live long day. I have high speed DSL at the office and at home and can send emails or IM from home if I feel the need, which I don't.

The last thing I want to get is more phone calls when I'm not working. Half the time we have our phones at home with the ringer turned off or screen the calls in case it might be a family member or friend we actually want to talk to.

Even if the Gubbmint gave me a phone, it wouldn't do much good since cell phone coverage in this area sucks rotten eggs. I'd like to take that Verizon 'can you hear me now' dweeb and give him a swift kick.

Seriously, why would I want a cell phone?

abequotes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drethelin said...

presumably you could just have the passcode checked every time you use it for spending money. That wouldn't be any more inconvenient than signing for credit card payment and wouldn't interfere with your regular use of the phone while still guarding your money.

Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent said...

How fascinating!

A completely cashless society will become essential at some point in the future - is there anyone today who doubts that everyone will have some form of readable personal chip implanted under their skin?
Think of it. You never lose it, it's always available - you can skinny dip in Vegas and still swim up to the bar and buy that lovely $5000 a night pretty young thing a drink without needing anything physical to hold on to. You can jog without pockets right up to your Starbucks and get a fillup! The only problems are:

-) Can you turn off the GPS before future Dems track you and your guns and your "right-wing" Sarah Palin approved activities (Homeland Security Watch)?

-) If someone wants to steal your identity, it's probably gonna hurt.

39 years ago I was sitting comfortably in a Home Study when someone stood up and said very angrily "Your Nuts! There will never be a personal "mark" on your wrist or forehead that you absolutely must have or else you can't buy anything!" The man then literally stormed out of the room. it was sadly humorous watching him try to slam a huge oak front door. Once again, the Bible and its predictive ability are proving true.

Ann Althouse said...

"You never lose it..."

What part of your body will it be in? A finger? Easily severed. Do you want to motivate thieves to sever fingers?

Brent said...

I would venture out to say the back of the hand or wrist. That, by the way, lines up very nicely with the Book of Revelation, Chapter 13:16-17

The point there is that there will come a time that the government - whichever ruling government - will force everyone to have it in order to buy or sell.

You are pretty well versed in a lot of theology, Ann. I bet you're somewhat aware of this already.

AJ Lynch said...

A recent Sci Fi movie showed them scanning ID chips in the wrist area. In one scene, the chips were used to pay bar tabs too.

Zombie Flanders said...

Ann the new 3.0 software that's coming in a few days has "locate my iPhone" which, if you have Apple's Mobile Me service, will silently turn on the phone's GPS and locate it, and can even send a text message to the phone with whatever you type in it. Oh, and you can remotely delete all the data on the phone too using this feature, if you can't find it and you believe you'll never get it back.

This is leading some to believe that some sort of password management will appear that's not just putting the pass code lock on the phone. Right now you can pass code lock the phone in the settings, but every time you slide the bar to open it, you have to put in the code. People are hopeful, though it's not clear, that there will be some sort of less-intrusive way to get better data security.

I always find great iPhone updates and other great tech info at Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com/tag/iphone-os-3%270/

Zombie Flanders said...

Whoops, just read that you already know of the pass code lock!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

All this password security is a big joke.

For every mutual fund company, insurance company, REIT firm, etc. I have to have a separate user name and password to get into their site for illustrations, order materials, look at clients accounts. Some require numbers and letters. Some are case sensitive. None are the same.

For the trading platform and my company's financial planning tools and to access client accounts....again more passwords which have to change every 90 days and we can't repeat any of the last 6 passwords. So I have to write down what I chose in the past so I don't repeat.

In addition I do almost all my banking, bill paying and purchasing (Amazon, Zappos etc) on line, so more passwords.

Oh yeah. And passwords to sign into Blogger, view certain newspapers and publications on the web... and the various on-line games (World of Warcraft FTW) that I like to play.

Who can possibly remember all these user names and passwords!!??!! There must be at least 60 different ones.

As a result I have an entire freaking rolodex on my desk where all the passwords are written down and I sent the information to myself at home in a data base program spreadsheet.

Really secure...huh?

I would really hate to have to have all of those tattooed or encoded on my body. I would look like the Illustrated Woman and need a 3 way mirror to check out my ass for the password for my Best Buy account.

Ralph L said...

Blake, fertilizer, seed & pesticides, largely for farmers. We do take checks. Drug dealers do 20s.
I bought a disposable phone for when I'm traveling
I did that last summer but couldn't get a number in my area code, so I've never activated it.

Zombie Flanders said...

DBQ, Just have a password like guns01roses, and then when they make you change it, change it to guns02roses. It's easily recalled, and all you have to remember is what number you're up to! I have a 90 day change on at least 3 passwords at work, and it sucked until I figured that trick out!

former law student said...

Shielding RFID chips in secure IDs and debit cards is a new industry. The range at which your Gas 'n' Go card can be scanned and duplicated is up to 60 feet.

Example:http://www.rfid-shield.com/products_cc.php

Elliott A said...

While the abolition of cash may not stop crime against individuals (the thieves are always clever) it will make many sorts of illegal transactions impossible. It is inevitable that the future will bring us a cashless society.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Why am I not surprised that I posted about similar proposals over five years ago? (BTW: I've worked to de-blog my writing since then). Search for "chipped" in the third search box to see some more.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Also, this site has a lot more information about this issue.

blake said...

All right, I'm gonna go waaay out on a limb and say, no, we'll never have a cashless society.

Not ever. Not no how.

We have a virtually cashless society now, but that final step isn't gonna happen.

If it did, lots of people would just start using other forms of currency.

traditionalguy said...

Blake...We need another Free Coinage of Silver debate. Where is William Jennings Bryan when we need him? "You shall not crucify this free country on a cross of Computer Credits held in I-phones ".

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If it did, lots of people would just start using other forms of currency.

Like cows, chickens and zuchinni?

blake said...

TradGuy--

I'd like to see all kinds of other transaction mediums allowed. Common even. In this day and age, why NOT exchange commodities?

Money's always going to be more convenient, and electronic money more convenient still. But there's nothing inherently criminal about trading stuff.

blake said...

DBQ,

And websites and training and maybe even tax returns.

JAL said...

Ralph L -- I use a buy-your-minutes-as-you-need-to cell phone and it doesn't matter what area code you are in. There are no roaming charges on mine, it's all the same rate. Buy one wherever.

Of course when other people call *you* they might incur LD charges -- unless they are using a call that has no roaming charges .....

Oh well.

KLDAVIS said...

"Robert Cook said...

As for iPhone security, if you're a Mobile Me subscriber--I am not--you'll be able to A)locate your missing iPhone using it's built in GPS technology and/or B)wipe all the data on it remotely. This functionality will be available with the new iPhone 3.0 software, due out in two days."

I believe both of these technologies have already existed for some time, they are just rolling it out to users. Previously, only Apple could perform the operation.

As someone who works in computer forensics, the idea of a user being able to implement a remote wipe scares me. Time to stock up on Faraday bags.

Also, the new iPhone 3GS will have hardware encryption.

Joe said...

As a result I have an entire freaking rolodex on my desk where all the passwords are written down and I sent the information to myself at home in a data base program spreadsheet.

Really secure...huh?


Actually it is. The biggest threat to computer security aren't people visiting your desk (i.e. physical security) but logical security of people hacking in from a distance. There are programs you can get like KeePass to keep all your complex passwords in one program (just don't forget its password like I did--fortunately I keep a hard copy in a safe.)

Many people would be quite stunned at the degree of relentless cyber attacks on even minor business systems. (Leave an unsecured computer open to the internet and it's almost amusing how fast it gets hijacked.)

Joe said...

I very rarely carry cash. Drives my kids nuts since they can never borrow money.

One curiosity: my wife and I have found that the less cash we carry, the lower our expenses. I know people who are just the opposite.