I’m pretty much against debt in connection with personal finance (don’t start me on the subject of mortgages, let alone overdraft rates).
Today’s invention is a simple attempt to decrease credit card fraud (at least when the cardholder is present) now that chip-and-pin technology is starting to come under pressure from clever criminals.
When you apply for any of this plastic (or even for an account), you upload a digital photograph of yourself which the bank then laminates into the body of the card (occupying the full size of one side of the card). This makes a low-cost link between your credit status and personal appearance in a very cheap way, that retailers etc can easily verify.
(Naturally the image could have other security features embedded, in order to lessen the danger that a card might be delaminated and a false image substituted. A simple one might be to only have some regions of the face image visible from one side of the card and the rest only from the other side. This would require fraudsters to embed at least two substitute layers, yet shopkeepers could just spin the card about a given axis to see all of the face at once).
It has the added benefit that if you drop your flexible ‘friend’ on a bus, someone may recognise the owner and return it.