The biometrics industry has been expanding exponentially in the past decade, where before you would only see biometric devices in extremely confidential settings, it is now possible to have a fingerprint scanner for a desktop computer for well under a hundred dollars.
Biometric technology is used in many state and federal buildings in many different forms. The human body presents several uniquely identifiable areas, such as the retina and fingerprints, and in addition RFID chips that give off individual radio frequencies can be implanted within a person's arm for identification.
Among the many institutions using this technology is Florida's own state penitentiary system. Through the use of retina scanning technology there have already been several successful recoveries of escaped convicts within the state. This technology has an increasing low input cost and the upkeep of the database is almost negligible. The prison system has already carried biometrics to a $200 million industry from just $16 million in 1998. And the private sector is more willing than ever to accept it into their lives.
The most promising of these devices is the VeriChip; an inexpensive rice-sized RFID transmitter produced by Florida based Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. that is implanted in a patient's tricep under mild anesthetic. The device, while having capabilities for cashless transactions, serves to inform doctors of certain allergic reactions a patient may have toward certain drugs, or even as a tracking device convicts under parole.
As previously mentioned, this technology presents a privacy risk, and with current data crunchers such as ECHELON operating freely under the Patriot Act, people see such discretely traceable devices as a major threat to their livelihood.
With such technology available for negligible prices, it would be very possible to sign up everyone in the country for a VeriChip implant over the course of a few years. If biometric companies would produce something that acted like the VeriChip without the privacy risk, not only would it be an economical way to eliminate cash, but a culturally accepted one as well.