Amazon is working on a system that would link customers' credit card information to a "non-contact biometric identification system" that will digitally scan a customer's hand.
Although plans are in the early stages, the tech giant has set in motion collaborative efforts with companies such as Visa to test hand scanner terminals for use in its brick and mortar stores. Financial groups JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Synchrony Financial are also in discussions with Amazon about participating, according to CNBC.
The hand-scanning terminals produce a photo of a person's palm that will be connected with the person's credit card.
"Data that would pass through the terminals, including where consumers shopped and when, would be stored on Amazon’s cloud ... [t]he company would like to integrate this data with consumers’ Amazon.com spending," sources familiar with the project told The Wall Street Journal.
"That could give Amazon more leverage to charge higher prices to advertisers based on the idea they can better predict what customers are likely to buy," WSJ reported, noting that card issuers are also "asking how consumers would be able to add more than one account to their palms and how they would be able to choose between those cards when they pay."
The move is being seen as yet another development in how consumers acquire goods and services, changing the way in which people interact with commerce and in their daily affairs while on the job.
In recent years reports have emerged in places like Sweden where notable numbers of people have had rice-grain sized microchips implanted in their hands, technology that is "designed to speed up users' daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessing their homes, offices and gyms ... as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers," according to NPR.
A Wisconsin software company garnered intense media coverage in 2017 when they microchipped their employees, inserting a small chip between the thumb and index finger enabling employees to wave their hand in front of sensors to open office doors, purchase food from the cafeteria, and unlock their laptops. The move has been called "dystopian" by many amid rising privacy and security concerns.
Though interpretations vary among Christians, such news items centering around financial and technological transactions being integrated with the human body often generate conversations about the end times and whether such innovations might be the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:16-17.
"[The beast] also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name," the passage reads in the New International Version.
In an August 2017 opinion piece for The Christian Post, Ryan Ries, co-founder of The Whosoevers Movement, noted that many know about the infamous mark spoken of in Scripture "but either shrug it off as fiction or have become numb to it because we have heard it taught so often. We know it is out there somewhere, but there is a football game to watch or a taco to eat or social media to waste our lives away in."
"What if this mark is real? What if it is the sign the Antichrist requires for all people who want to sell or buy?" he asked, stressing that he believes that with the microchipping of humans and ungodliness raging, the proverbial stage has been set as younger generations have been culturally groomed to embrace the mark thus necessitating churches to reconsider how they approach ministry.