The war on cash just got serious, and of course, it is the extreme policy experimenters of Japan that are pushing the boundaries. Having dived headlong into negative interest rates, Japanee policymakers recognize full well the historical reaction of "hording cash" will not 'create' the nirvana of 2% inflation and break the 'deflation mindset' that they so long have waited for. So, following in the footsteps of Venezuela, as Japan News reports, starting this summer, the government will test a system which will enable people to buy things at stores using only their fingerprints - thus enabling full monitoring (and inevitable control) of spending (or saving).
The government hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists by using the system to prevent crime and relieve users from the necessity of carrying cash or credit cards.
The experiment will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports and elsewhere.
Tourists would then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores.
The government plans to gradually expand the experiment by next spring, to cover areas including tourist sites in the Tohoku region and urban districts in Nagoya.
It hopes to realize the system throughout the country, including Tokyo, by 2020.
Data concerning how and where foreign tourists use the system will be managed by a consultative body led by the government, after the data is converted to anonymous big data.
After analyzing tourists’ movements and their spending habits, the data is expected to be utilized to devise policies on tourism and management strategies for the tourism industry.
However, there are concerns that tourists will be uneasy about providing personal information such as fingerprints. The experiment will examine issues including how to protect one’s privacy and information management.
And finally, the system has already begun use in one bank's ATM systems...
By the end of this month at the earliest, Tokyo-based Aeon Bank will become the first bank in Japan to test a system in which customers will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines using only fingerprints for identification and omitting the use of cash cards.
“The system is also superior in the area of security, such as preventing people from impersonating our customers,” an official from the bank said.
While the idea of fingerprint ID-ing authorization makes perfect sense from a security perspective, the requirement of fingerprinting an entire nation (or those who want to spend or retrieve cash) is yet one more step towards the totalitarian control of the final step in the central planners' arsenal - your consumption habits.