Plans Underway for a Cashless Asia

In a very disturbing article by Asia’s largest independent news source; Asian Correspondent, plans have been put in effect to help the large portion of the population on the continent of Asia that are without a bank account transition to a cashless society. This is being touted as a way to help the roughly 2 billion people across the globe – who do not have access to services that rely on banking systems – be able to participate in e-commerce. Currently, a majority of the payment options on e-commerce platforms rely on the customer to either have a credit card, bank card, or online banking at their disposal. However, according to the World Bank Global Findex, 38 percent of world’s adults (above the age of 15) do not have a bank account or any means by which to enact an e-commerce transaction. This is especially problematic in Asia where up to 45 percent of the population remains “unbanked.” Interestingly though, more than 355 million account holders in developing countries prefer to carry out perform manual transaction either in cash or over the counter because a significant proportion of the society within Asia prefers physical transactions over digital transactions due to cultural perceptions. However, a change may be underway.

A Number Needed to Buy & Sell

A Malaysian based online payment solutions provider owned by NTT Data known as iPay88 has launched an initiative where customers can deposit cash into a specialized bank account that provides them with a virtual bank account number generated specifically for online transactions. Another Malaysian company known as MOLPay launched a similar program last year where customers deposit cash in exchange for a transaction number at popular convenience stores instead of banks. Other companies in India, including Paytm, FreeCharge, MobiKwik etc., have also rolled out similar services. These efforts are expected to increase e-commerce sales by 40% in Asia. As many of us are aware, the huge trade of goods that is enacted everyday via the internet; known as e-commerce, can be exceptionally convenient. Yet, that convenience comes with a cost not entirely measured in monetary units.

Relevant Bible Passages

Many Bible teachers note that Revelation 13 specifically speaks of a time in the future in which the “mark of the beast” is directly connected to the availability of commerce. While the system being enacted in parts of Asia is not currently a “mark,” as referenced in the Bible passages, interpreters of Revelation often differ as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Many believe it could be a tattoo, some sort of chip implanted under the skin, or some sort of national ID card; both of which are technological realities. It could even be a transaction number that you must have to carry out e-commerce! The Bible says that during the last days “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17). These details are worryingly similar to the potential impacts of the cashless system being enacted in parts of Asia. The concern is that the system in Asia could eventually prohibit people from buying what they need unless they vow allegiance to a particular ruler such as the antichrist will appear as during the last days.  As such we should seek the Lord in prayer.

PRAY: Pray that this system being put in place in Asia will not be used as a means to control people’s ability to secure the goods they need. Pray that this will not be a system that could be used for any other nefarious purpose.