Jul 1st, 2021
When PSA acquired Genamint, a technology that will allow computer scanning of cards for accurate grading and prevention of re-grading, many in the hobby assumed the worst: my hopes of cracking my BGS 9.5 and submitting to PSA for re-grade is OVER! OH THE HUMANITY! At surface level, this is a reasonable conclusion to draw. But first, before we just put those 9.5’s back in the collection, lets take a look at the technology, what that means for grading not only near term, but long term also, and what that means for re-grading our cards. ***DISCLAIMER: I do not have intimate knowledge of the technology and potentially any proprietary technology, but based on my experience this is a pretty good idea of how the technology will work.
First, what is the technology? The following is straight from PSA’s announcement of the acquisition, “Genamint technology analyzes each card in real-time and is able to provide diagnostics, measurements, and detect alterations or other changes made to a card’s surface in an effort to assist human graders, according to Professional Sports Authenticator, the world’s largest trading card, autograph and memorabilia authentication and grading service.” So, in many ways this is great news. When a submission was made before, it would be graded solely by a human, who may or may not be having the best day, maybe got into a fight with their partner, or maybe were feeling under the whether. Whatever the case may be, you were at the mercy of how “generous” the person grading wanted to be. This technology will create and grade by defined limits and parameters, which should lead to a more consistent understanding of what will achieve a PSA 10.
Now, this part is what has many in the hobby worried, “Genamint will also provide unique card identification, or “card fingerprinting,” by identifying the exact card in order to track provenance, resubmissions, condition changes and other attributes over time.” PANIC!! FINGERPRINTS!! Many are interpreting this as, gone are the days of cracking my BGS to PSA. This however is not the case at all. For example, when you see a friend that you haven’t seen in quite some time, and they have religiously stuck to the trendy new diet and have lost a few pounds, most notably in the face. You remark, “Wow, you look Great! Have you lost weight?” What made you say that? Was it that you saw what was in front of you? Yes, but you also had a frame of reference. You saw what your friend looked like before, and what they look like now. Similarly, this technology will work the same. PSA will scan the cards they receive, which will give them a detailed frame of reference if that card ever returns. So, if you were hoping to crack your PSA 9, send it back in and hope for someone having a better day, then yes you are out of luck there. HOWEVER, this does not mean that we won’t be able to continue to crack BGS to convert to PSA. After all, PSA will not have that frame of reference if it goes to BGS first for grading. Now, if BGS partners with PSA with this technology, then yes, the days of BGS/PSA will be over. But there are no indications that it will be anytime soon.
What about when PSA opens back up in the near future? What does this mean for folks hoping for PSA 10? Large companies who acquire new technology do not roll it out before a long vetting process. Speaking from experience as someone who dealt with human interaction transitioning to more of a technological approach, it takes a long time to build the framework for how the technology will work on its own. Lots and lots of time goes into trial and error. This is most evident by the fact that PSA is mass hiring card graders. That is another thing large companies do not do if they aren’t investing in those new hires long term. Companies would rather eat the lost production costs if they have a short term fix, so by mass hiring that tells us that they will be relying on human grading with Genamint assistance for the foreseeable future.
So before you decide to be captain doom and gloom, step back, logically take a look at the situation, and see that when PSA starts again in July, it really won’t look a whole lot different from when they left us all hanging.