CHINA - Is Money On the Way Out?

Arno Froese

Step into KFC’s KPro restaurant in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou and you will find customers smiling for their supper.

The “smile to pay” system means a camera at the counter scans a customer’s face, verifies their identity from records on the Alipay app, and takes payment.

Smartphones allow fingerprints, iris scans and voice recognition—or even just our physical presence in a store—to be sufficient to make a payment. Sending a message on a mobile to take a bus ride or transfer money home is common in Africa.

The breakneck speed of change in this sector makes it “futile” to predict exactly what will happen in the next decade or two, adds Mr. Zhang.

But one thing is for sure: millions of people are increasingly turning to their smartphones not only to pay, but to manage their money—by applying for loans, finding the best insurance deal, or donating to charity.

Non-cash payments in China rose by 63% in 2014-15. In the UK, non-cash payments have now overtaken the use of notes and coins. So there are challenges for cash all round the world.

Meanwhile, technology is reinventing the very building blocks of our finances. As long ago as the 16th Century BC, goods were exchanged for a form of currency—cowrie shells.

Later, in the 7th Century BC, coins were first minted in Lydia, in modern-day Turkey, from electrum—a natural alloy of gold and silver found in riverbeds.

Much later, paper money was introduced in China. Known as “flying cash” owing to its convenience and lightness, it was backed by the central authority. According to Ben Alsop, curator of the Citi Money Gallery at the British Museum in London, that introduced a vital concept—trust. 

Trust of the authorities, and trust that this piece of paper was actually worth something. So, for years, currencies have traditionally been issued by governments via central banks.

All of which raises issues of control and influence. Who controls currency—governments or networks of computers? Who controls our payments—technology companies, payment card providers, or banks?

Arguably most importantly of all, who controls all the data about our financial transactions—you or them?, 21 November 2017

Arno's commentary

The world is racing toward the unnamed global currency, which can be expressed with one word: faith. Paper money, as we know, is by itself completely worthless. You can’t eat it, you can’t put it in the tank of your car and drive, but you can buy virtually anything with it. Thus, next in line comes digital money, which no longer consists of coins and printed paper, but simply of numbers electronically stored indefinitely. One senses that the way for the mark of the beast is being prepared. To communicate, a person has to have access to accounts by using certain private codes, mostly numbers, and they—in the end—will constitute the mark of the beast.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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