Having spent many years in New York working for one of the financial sector’s “Big 6” banking corporations, I feel qualified to look at the financial ramifications that the emergence of Bitcoin will have on the future of money in America, if not worldwide. Having left that ethically-bankrupt den of thieves behind was difficult financially, but empowering spiritually.
From orchestrating the run on the banks in 1906-1907 to destroy small business competition, to the drafting & creation of the Federal Reserve Act, which was written by bankers, for bankers, in seclusion on Georgia’s Jekyll Island. To having bank execs sitting on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve in New York, a damning conflict of interest for all involved, to the acquiring other banks under the cover of darkness, for pennies on the dollar through the FDIC, at a fraction of market values. There are many other egregious acts of financial fascism; I’ve been waiting for many years for this pack of wolves to get their comeuppance. They have made up the rules as they’ve gone along for too many decades. In the last one-hundred-plus years, they have pillaged and plundered the U.S. economy by baking corruption and predatory economics into the rule of law through their financial influence, pushing the U.S. Dollar onto the brink of oblivion in the process.
Yet, there is a light. A shining beacon of light, some would even say borne out of divine intervention. A light that is young and small, but incredibly bright and powerful, that can blind all of the vultures and parasites colluding the global financial markets as we speak. From the darkest days of “The Great Recession”; that light dawned on January 3rd of 2009, when Bitcoin, and the birth of true crypto-currency was invented by creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
The value of this revolutionary invention in the world of finance, and for technology as a whole, may not be totally understood by the mainstream for many years to come, but you can feel the impact like an aftershock with each passing day. It levels the plagues of commercial counter-party risk, The Byzantine General’s Problem, and the burden of charge-backs (for merchants) and merchant processing fees (for both merchants and consumers) in one fell swoop. Bitcoin has collected over 60,000 merchants worldwide into its ecosystem, and through the efforts of market leaders like BitPay and Coinbase, has obtained the funding accounts of many industry leaders like Reddit, WordPress, Dish Network, Dell Computers, and Wikipedia, just to name a few. Internet giants PayPal and eBay seem destined to join the growing herd, but not without a confused look on their corporate face.
Apple & Apple Pay
Don’t think that this march into “The Future of Money” has gone unnoticed by the rest of the financial industry. Nor will it go unavenged. Apple, which made more money in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014 than Facebook, Google and Amazon combined, has unleashed “Apple Pay.” Apple Pay is a not-really-new integrated payment solution that is a hedge of a bet on the digital payment theme. This may be more helpful to them since they have access to over 800 million debit/credit cards worldwide.
It takes all of the usual suspects, primarily the ”Big 6” of the banking cartel (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Barclays and Capital One). The merchant card processing cartel (Visa, Mastercard and AMEX). And plenty of technology that other companies have been using, under different names, for years (Near Field Communication, Touch ID and Secure Element), makes an Apple-centric payment structure, all while leveraging the Apple brand in a new way. They have also recruited heavy-hitting merchants like McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Disney, among others, to partake in this economic odyssey with them. Suffice to say these multi-national corporations won’t be joining Team anytime soon.
Having an Apple iMac desktop and Nano myself, I am a fan of Apple and their technology. Their OS and interface for most of their programs are widely considered the best in the computing industry. But since the illness and passing of Steve Jobs, Apple has struggled over the past few years, and innovations and a clear direction have not become self-evident. The one-time industry innovating iTunes program has lagged behind the industry in speed, functionality and design. New iPhone products always seem a step behind Samsung’s S-family, and the new Microsoft Surface has found plenty of buyers ready to leave the iPad behind. My issue with Apple and the Apple Pay conglomerate is of a more sinister nature than a mere loss of leadership and innovation at the top.
Apple Pay amounts to a pretty train, that looks fast, but is built on top of the old railroad tracks, that can only handle a certain speed and have a high cost of ownership that the end users will be asked to pay, in many different ways. Anytime the established international banking cartel joins forces on anything that’s a red flag right there. The high processing fees and chargebacks costs of all Apple Pay are still present and accounted. Keep in mind you pay an extra 2-5% on every purchase you make with a debit or credit card. These fees go to the merchant, who builds them right into your purchase price, and this does nothing to lower these institutionalized costs to the consumer. The 1 in 1200 fraudulent transactions found through debit & credit card processing aren’t going anywhere, either. So fraud protection doesn’t improve, unless you get rid of the source of the problem, the cards themselves.
With more hands in this cookie jar, why wouldn’t your identity theft risk increase, now that hackers have a much more centralized network to steal merchant account information from? How is biometric scanning going to protect your privacy? What does Apple do with your fingerprints once they’ve taken them? Now that your biometrics is digitally recorded, as an MP4, Apple can pretty much do whatever they want with them. With the device, you used for them linked, why wouldn’t Apple track your location, sell your tracking as part of the list, or transfer it to pick-a-federal-agency at a moment’s notice? What happens to your fingerprint, personal metadata, and banking/payment information if you lose your service? And Apple computers have been known to have a backdoor, which can be used by government for fairly easily to access all of users personal information. Apple Pay now gives Apple more of your information to collect and share from the back end, most likely to another government agency stealing your civil liberties at a record pace.
It’s a Centralized Circus
Creating a circus of known suspects in banking, retail, and merchant services, with Apple, positioned as the ringleader, sadly lends credibility to Apple Pay, at least to the ignorant masses. These famous names have been built to be trusted over decades of programming and conditioning, both online and offline. But with all the information, the headlines, the fraud, the theft, and the collusion wrought over the past decade, what corporations, which are accountable to their stockholders first and foremost, do you trust, with your personal information? Fingerprints? Tracking software? Where does your trust, or your willful ignorance, stop, I ask you?
Does any of these civil liberties issues apply to Bitcoin owners? What are the transaction fees to us? What do we need biometric scans for? Who has, or needs, our personal banking intel to make a transaction good? No need to give away your identity, or your soul, to make Bitcoin transactions safe and secure.
Having been on the inside of these legendary companies, they are wolves. And they are counting on you to continue to be their sheep to be fleeced. In “The Information Age” we all live in, either you are enlightened by how the world turns through education, or you are deliberately sticking your head in the sand, hoping to ignore the problems of privacy, theft, and negligent security measures that affect us all. You either address the problem, and take responsibility for your identity or you hope that the problem goes magically away, instead of getting worse.
Biometrics, reliance on outdated, easily compromised tech (debit cards), and a pact among commercial jackals is no way to invest your identity handling and monetary transactions in 2014-15. Competition, mathematics, and personal responsibility are the only way of an educated and prudent 21st century consumer.
If your phone asks to scan your finger, say no. We’ve done just fine without that theft of identity for millions of years. Don’t “Apple Pay” for the right to sell-out your soul to the banks, just for more petty conveniences of consumption. This is your identity, not theirs. Take a stand against identity theft. Bitcoin doesn’t ask you to make this personal compromise against your own security. Why should Apple?
Featured image from Shutterstock.