A sign of the times

FTLComm - Tisdale - Saturday, January 25, 2003
This sign and others like it greeting customers at some of Tisdale's businesses this afternoon as the complex system that handles electronic commerce suffered some form of disruption. Though hardly a unique problem as a similar event had taken place at the height of the Christmas rush when the Bank of Nova Scotia's computer system packed it in and brought down all of the VISA system with it

The days of running your business with a cash box and perhaps even a cash register are far behind us as the use of plastic is now a part of almost all but a few simple transactions. Even when cash is used bonus cards like "Air Miles" or "Club Z" become involved and in all large retail outlets the cash registers are essentially just computer terminals that are linked directly to instore and many system wide networks allowing the simultaneous alteration of pricing at all checkout stations with a single command.

The growth of debit cards is even more startling as they are much safer for most people allowing them to manage their money and not have to carry any cash at all.

It struck me as I looked at this sign today that this simple process of purchasing groceries is now completely integrated into the electronic market place.

A worker has his pay cheque electronically deposited into his bank account, then accesses that account with his debit card. Also growing in popularity are smart cards which have electronically encoded value to the card itself. Ultimately the promise of a cash less society has already arrive, perhaps well before it was even predicted.

I recall vividly the first "charge cards" as Sears, Eatons and Simpsons got into selling products on credit about the same time as the oil companies introduce their credit cards. For more than three decades these instruments of finance were handled using paper. The change came after 1995 when the Internet became mainstream here in Saskatchewan. Just before the arrival of the Internet we had seen the banks automated tellers machines and a few businesses began to have dedicated land line connections to verify credit card transactions but in less than seven years the "system" is now the "only" system of handling a financial transaction.

Today we had enough cash on hand to make the purchase but there will come a time, much sooner than later that such a primitive trade will be possible.

Don't be surprised if we soon begin using implants, electronic transponder devices put in our body's to be used as identification and the simple process of buying a retail product. Just thinking of it right now makes me and I suspect you cringe but the whole security thing is going to get out of hand, voice recognition, finger prints and retina scans all are a major hassle and consume time. People will consent to implants just to make things work.

Welcome to the new world, I originally typed "brave new world" then changed it because we will leap into the future not with bravery but with fear and trepidation, we will do so because it will seem like there is no alternative.

Timothy W. Shire

Web recovers after fast-spreading 'worm' attack January 26, 2003, CTV News


Return to Ensign - Return to Saskatchewan News

This page is a story posted on Ensign and/or Saskatchewan News, both of which are daily web sites offering a variety of material from scenic images, political commentary, information and news. These publications are the work of Faster Than Light Communications . If you would like to comment on this story or you wish to contact the editor of these sites please send us email.

Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004