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China’s Orwellian Cashless Payments Show Why Bitcoin Is Freedom

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Like a scene from an Orwellian nightmare, authorities in Shenzhen China show where the future of centralized cashless payments is headed. And it isn’t pretty.


Centralized Cashless Payments in China

China is known for its high rate of technology adoption. Of the 2 billion or so smartphones around the world, two-thirds of them are in China.

Unlike most users in the West, Chinese smartphones are particularly popular for making instant cashless payments. Just about everyone accepts mobile payments, from small street vendors to homeless people.

Up until now, Chinese using WeChat Pay to make a purchase was completely at their will. But the Shenzhen traffic police are about to instantly extract fines from people’s WeChat accounts if they’re caught jaywalking.

Better than that? They’re using facial recognition technology to catch offenders and remove the fines automatically, no questions asked.

Facial Recognition to ‘Name and Shame’ Is Not Enough

In Shenzhen, pedestrians who violate road rules are already named and shamed on giant LED screens. Traffic police use CCTV cameras backed by AI to single out jaywalkers. Their faces are also registered on a government website.

china wechat jaywalking shenzen

AI-enabled cameras are nothing new in China’s most progressive city. The technology was put in place in April 2018 and since then, almost 14,000 jaywalkers have had their faces plastered across the screen at a busy junction in the Futian district.

The Chinese authorities, it seems, really don’t want you crossing the road outside of a designated pedestrian area.

According to Wang Jun, Director of Marketing Solutions at AI firm Intellifusion, quoted in South China Morning Post, however, naming and shaming is not enough.

Jaywalking has always been an issue in China and can hardly be resolved just by imposing fines or taking photos of the offenders… But a combination of technology and psychology… can greatly reduce instances of jaywalking and will prevent repeat offenses.

So, the Chinese traffic police will soon use a combination of facial recognition technology and instant fines by text.

Despite the margin for error (last year, a facial recognition system mistook a face on a bus for a jaywalker), the new system is moving ahead.

Push vs Pull Payments: Centralization vs Decentralization

Since the naming and shaming campaign began, the number of repeat offenders has reduced. Although Wang believes the only incentive strong enough to stop jaywalking completely is to hit people directly in their pockets.

wechat china

Intellifusion is currently in talks with popular Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. Not only will the jaywalker be notified by text, but their account will be debited some 20 minutes later. Their credit rating will also be affected if they pass a certain limit and violate the rules too many times.

If it sounds like a scene from an Orwellian society, that’s because this is exactly what this is. Big Brother China is showing the world where the future of centralized cashless payments is headed. And it isn’t pretty.

By going ahead and taking funds from violators’ accounts, they impose a ‘pull payment’ strategy, whereby the supplier simply takes the money from the account.

Now, contrast this to a decentralized financial system like Bitcoin, in which account holders send the funds (with their private key) and payments are ‘pushed’ onto the network.

China Has Control Over Your Financial Sovereignty

It’s been clear to the Chinese people for some time now that the authorities are watching them. But with this new initiative, the government will have access to pull payments from its citizens’ accounts, effectively controlling their financial sovereignty.

It’s not only Shenzhen that’s doing it, either. The Chinese are getting trigger-happy with facial recognition technology, with similar projects in Shanghai and Beijing.

What do you think about China’s automatic fines for jaywalking? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Zimbabwe Banks Lack Cash Reserves To Honor Customer Withdrawals

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Zimbabwe

The country of Zimbabwe is not associated with financial stability by any means, yet things have taken a turn for the worse. Now that cash supplies are nearly non-existent, banks have to turn customers away. An excellent breeding ground for Bitcoin adoption, or will a different solution save the country?

Also read: Industry Report: Dr. Satoshi, BitPay Launches Bitcoin Debit Card

Zimbabwe Runs Out Cash

Even though various countries around the world are contemplating to go cashless in the future, running out of cash is not what most of them have envisioned. Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, that is exactly what happened. Not that this is a complete surprise, mind you, as the country has been using various foreign currencies since the collapse of their own fiat currency in 2009.

Especially the US Dollar has been a focal point for Zimbabwe, but due to their slump in global commodity prices and lower exports, not enough funds is coming in. As a result, local banks have started to turn away customers looking to withdraw cash, simply because they have no reserves to meet the demand.

For the time being, the central bank is looking to print bond notes, which would be tied to the US Dollar value kept in the country’s reserves. Moreover, withdrawals will be limited to US$1,000 per day, and people are advised to use either Euros or South African rand. That latter is not a viable option either, though, considering the rand lost 20% of its value compared to the US Dollar in the past twelve months.

This goes to show that central banks cannot continue to create money out of thin air to solve their financial problems. Yet that is exactly what the Zimbabwe central bank is doing, as they issue a brand new currency to temporarily alleviate some of the financial pressure. At the same time, they limit how much of it can be used by consumers on a daily basis, though, which will not help stabilize the economy in the long run.

Bitcoin could resolve these financial issues as well, although there is no guarantee consumers and enterprises see the value of this cryptocurrency just yet. Solving a financial crisis does not happen overnight, but Bitcoin is ready to be embraced by Zimbabwe if they want to offer consumers a financial ecosystem that is not bogged down by central bank dominance.

What are your thoughts on the situation in Zimbabwe? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: CNN Money

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia

The post Zimbabwe Banks Lack Cash Reserves To Honor Customer Withdrawals appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Zimbabwe Banks Lack Cash Reserves To Honor Customer Withdrawals

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